Monday, April 27, 2020

Where the Lost Wander - Review

Where the Lost Wander

By: Amy Harmon

Publication: April 28th 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

348 pages

Genre: New Adult, Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

I have to say that I typically stay away from books taking place on one of the wagon trails. I've honestly only read one other book similar to this (Walk on Earth a Stranger), but I didn't really enjoy it as much as I hoped. But Amy Harmon is a favorite author of mine, and I've found her to be a consistently good author. So I thought I would have to give Where the Lost Wander a chance.

Where the Lost Wander opens with the tragedy mentioned in the description in the prologue. John isn't mentioned at all during that scene so I came to the conclusion that he wasn't present for it. Yet he was with the May family for the majority of the time. Chapter 1 goes back to when John and Naomi meet. I wondered if this would be one of those "then" and "now" books, but it followed chronological order from Chapter 1 on. This left me constantly questioning when tragedy was going to strike which drove anticipation into every scene for me.

One of the reasons I shy away from stories about wagon trains is that by necessity, these books focus heavily on description. I understand why, but I prefer books with less description and more action. Similarly, even though John and Naomi have an instant connection, their relationship is slow-building. Romance is in the air, but I didn't feel like it was driving the story all of the time, which again is something I prefer.

Now I have to say that Amy Harmon wrote this story beautifully. I felt like she showed all sides of the many types of people encountered by our characters on their journey. She has an author's note at the end that I highly suggest you don't skip. Knowing her personal connections to the story and characters made the story that much deeper. I also appreciated that she didn't shy away from some pieces that I think other authors might skirt around.

As usual with Amy Harmon, I found several quotes that I have to share. Here are my favorites:

-I’m convinced everyone is a little vile, if they are honest about it.

-“I hate being a woman.” “You do?” Her voice squeaks in astonishment. “I hate how hard it is.” “Would you rather be a man?” she challenges, as if I have lost my wits completely. I think about that for a moment. I am not so blind as to think being a man would be much better. Easier, maybe. Or not. I’m not sure. Every path is likely just a different version of hard. But I’m still angry.

-"Hating men won’t make you a man. Hating your womb or your breasts or your own weakness won’t make those things go away. You’ll still be a woman. Hating never fixed anything. It seems simple, but most things are. We just complicate them. We spend our lives complicating what we would do better to accept. Because in acceptance, we put our energies into transcendence.”

-“Put your energy into rising above the things you can’t change, Naomi. Keep your mind right. And everything will work out for the best.” “Even if there’s a lot of pain along the way?” “Especially if there’s pain along the way,” Mama says firmly.

-“I would rather draw faces than anything else. Pa says the landscapes would have a better chance of selling to the newspapers or maybe in a printed book someday, but most of the time, the world just can’t compete with the people in it.”

-“What happened to Lawrence Caldwell reaping what he sows?” I mutter. “Only God decides when and how the reaping comes. That has nothing to do with us. We worry about what we’re sowing.”

-“The hardest thing about life is knowing what matters and what doesn’t,” Winifred muses. “If nothing matters, then there’s no point. If everything matters, there’s no purpose. The trick is to find firm ground between the two ways of being.”

-“That’s what marriage is. It’s shelter. It’s sustenance. It’s warmth. It’s finding rest in each other. It’s telling someone, You matter most."

-I realize now that life is just a continual parting of the ways, some more painful than others.

There is so much to this story that I feel is spoilers to share so I'm keeping it to myself. But it's hard to feel like I've discussed the book thoroughly enough without mentioning all the things.

Amy Harmon has once again hooked me and wrapped me up in a story and set of characters. I devoured the pages as often as I could. I still feel deeply moved by the journey Naomi, John, the Mays, and others endured. Where the Lost Wander gets 4 Stars. Have you read Where the Lost Wander? What did you think? Let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment