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The Cherry Pickers

A Family is Forever Changed in the Summer of 1956

The Cherry Pickers

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The edge of the orchard, where the last row of trees stood on the old lake bluff, delimited the edge of the real world. The orchard’s orderly realm clashed and stood in mortal conflict with the Michigan woods spread below. One would win in the end. The boy understood the battle: The orchard is man’s domain; the forest is owned by no one, a wilderness. He called it “below the hill,” below civilization, below the safe, the known, the comfortable. The path from the crest of the bluff to the woods below carved a hallway from one life to another, from one place that held his family to another that held him. It was a place to learn, to poke and prod, to watch and wonder, and to see miracles. It was also where he began to understand the conflicts of life and death.
A tale of secrets in northern Michigan during that hot and stormy summer of 1956. With constant fear of nuclear war, an exploding Middle East, and memories of World War II still fresh on soldier’s graves, a fourteen-year-old boy realizes that he is growing up. In Howie Smith’s world of primeval forests, orderly orchards, and Lake Michigan, he learns about life and begins to understand death. While dealing with a crazy aunt, a dying uncle he learns to cherish, and the unyielding pressure to bring in the demanding crop of cherries, Howie is forced to quickly learn that there is much more to life than baseball.

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