Unpasteurized by Lisa Lynn Biggar – Book Review

Unpasteurized by Lisa Lynn Biggar – Book Review

Unpasturized by Lisa Lynn Biggar


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Unpasteurized is a beautiful and captivating novella by Lisa Lynn Biggar that takes you on a journey through the lives of the characters, filled with love, loss, and sacrifice. The author effortlessly weaves together the stories of the intergenerational family on a farm in Pennsylvania, creating a rich tapestry of emotions and memories.

Review by Guest Reviewer Ada

Unpasteurized is an atmospheric, charming, unusual coming-of-age novella. The story is told through the eyes of young Jessie, who immerses the reader from the outset in her life lived at an eastern Pennsylvania farm, owned by her grandparents.

Using first person narrative, Jessie’s young, unfiltered voice creates a compelling and insightful atmosphere, which at the same time is surrounded in mystery. The uncertainly pervading the novel reflects the changing, unstable mystery of human relationships, which can be seen as Jessie navigates her way through her summer months at the farm. Life on the farm is in sharp contrast to her day-to-day existence in Maryland.

The unique environment of the farm captivated my interest, as I found myself identifying with Jessie at key points throughout the book. Some of the realities uncovered were quite shocking: for example, when Jessie discovers that her grandmother secludes herself in the bathroom in order to swig vodka, whilst discretely sleeping off a hangover the next day. The relationship between her grandparents can, at times, be a bit unsettling, and points to the harsh realities of a marriage that is not exactly based on love and reciprocity.

The layout of the book is structured into smaller sections of flash fiction. I enjoyed this layout, as it meant that I could read the individual sections at one sitting, letting the emotions and descriptions set in, before moving onto the next one. This novella-in-flash style had the result of making the reader feel totally immersed in the narrator’s memories and impressions. Sadness and feeling of loss permeate the narrative, leaving a distinct impression upon the reader of irrepressible, unfulfilled longing.

I did find some of the harsh truths around the brutality of farming practices a little too much to bear, and, as an animal lover, I had a bit of a struggle tolerating some of the material around animal treatment. Vegans should bear this in mind before reading this book, as the content could be quite upsetting for some people.

The conclusion of Unpasteurized draws all the threads of Jessie’s memories together, and I was quite moved by her resilience and the bittersweetness of her life experiences. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys flawed, yet relatable characters, and evocative storytelling. This is a one-of-a-kind book that transports the reader to a different plain of existence, whilst also reaching out to you on a personal level as well.

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Lisa Lynn Biggar

Lisa Lynn Biggar

Lisa Lynn Biggar received her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review, The Delmarva Review, Litro Magazine, Superstition Review and Pithead Chapel.

She’s the fiction editor for Little Patuxent Review and co-owns and operates a cut flower farm on the eastern shore of Maryland with her husband and two hard working cats.

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