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The Cherry Harvest - A Novel

The Cherry Harvest reveals a hidden side of World War II's home front, when German POWs are put to work in a Wisconsin farm community . . . with dark and unexpected consequences.

It's the summer of 1944 in Door County, Wisconsin, where even the lush cherry orchards and green lakeside farms can't escape the ravages of war. With food rationed and money scarce, the Christiansen family struggles to hold on. The family's teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to save money for college, while her mother, Charlotte, barters what she can to make ends meet. Charlotte's husband, Thomas, strives to keep the orchard going while their son—along with most of the other able-bodied men—is fighting overseas.

With the upcoming harvest threatened by the labor shortage, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby POW camp to pick the fruit.

But when Thomas befriends one of the prisoners, a math teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate, both Charlotte and Kate are swept into a world where love, duty, and honor are not as clear-cut as they might have believed. Charlotte and Thomas fail to see that Kate is becoming a young woman, with dreams and temptations of her own. And when their beloved son, Ben, returns from the battlefield, wounded and bitter, the secrets they've all been keeping threaten to explode their world.

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Praise for The Cherry Harvest


"At times romantic, scheming, heartbreaking, and tragic, Lucy Sanna's fiction debut takes us to an America only just receding from memory. It is a time of war, love, and passion and in Sanna's hands it all becomes undeniably and vividly alive." - Christian Kiefer, author of The Animals

“A beautiful novel and a reminder that war touches every family, but never in the same ways. Sanna’s engaging, unforgettable characters show how every action can resound in unimaginable consequences—and what starts out as an act of kindness might prove the most dangerous. Haunting.” - Amy Smith, author of All Roads Lead to Austen

“A delight to read. The world Sanna created was so physically real and the characters so engaging that I was instantly drawn in . . . I read the book at one sitting... and highly recommend The Cherry Harvest." - Nancy Farmer, Newbery Honor and National Book Award-winning author of The House of the Scorpion

"Lucy Sanna's Cherry Harvest goes beyond being a novel you won't want to put down. Her insightful characters and heart-stopping plot twists make it a tale that will stay with you always." - Antoinette May, New York Times best-selling author of Pilate's Wife and Sacred Well

"The Cherry Harvest gripped me from the first sentence. It’s a vivid, compelling, and beautifully written story, by turns lyrical and savage, as the well-drawn characters, consumed by passion, fear, hope, and hatred, move inexorably toward the unexpected climax." - Gillian Bagwell, author of The Darling Strumpet, The September Queen, and Venus in Winter

"This debut novel makes a strong choice for book clubs as it addresses a wide range of topics for discussion: Is violence on a personal or global scale ever justified? Are relationships forged from necessity just as valid as those developed from emotion? Additionally, the issue of how deeply unacknowledged desires can affect the way we live is addressed." - Library Journal Advance Review