Review: Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin

3.5 stars (I liked it quite a bit).

Where the Watermelons Grow cover (link to Goodreads)

I waffled whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. I generally don’t like half stars, but sometimes it’s merited. The thing is, what this book does well, it REALLY does well. And most of the reasons I didn’t rate it higher were personal, not the fault of the author.

I actually bought a hard copy of this book because my library didn’t have it as an audiobook and I wanted to read it so badly I shelled out some of my limited spending money for it when it went on sale. I loved the cover, the title, and the hype it was getting on Twitter. I knew next to nothing about it beyond that.

Here are some of the things it does well:

  1. It depicts mental illness with accuracy and grace. It doesn’t sensationalize it or soften it. The MC’s mother’s schizophrenia is scary and dangerous and sometimes subtle too, and always complex.
  2. It doesn’t present too-simplistic solutions for really hard problems.
  3. It really put me into the setting. The unbearable heat the whole way through was like another character, and I almost felt as if I was sweating, even though I read this in the springtime.
  4. Each relationship was developed gently and organically. The characters felt real.
  5. The prose is gorgeous.

For these reasons, I feel this is an important book. For me personally, sometimes it felt a little . . . cute. And the plot meandered maybe more than I care for. At times I felt slightly bored and unsure where it was going.

But if literary books about important themes are your jam, I’ll bet money you’ll like this one.

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