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BOOK REVIEW : WHERE THE LOST WANDER BY AMY HARMON

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TITLE : Where The Lost Wander

AUTHOR : Amy Harmon

GENRE : Historical Fiction, Romance

FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stars

FR REVIEW

DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Where The Lost Wanderis a romantic historical fiction set on Oregon Trail and it tells us the hauntingly beautiful love story of Naomi May and John Lowry. They meet on their journey to California in search of a better life. We follow these two characters through their journey which is filled with difficulties, sicknesses, and trials that test their strengths and limits. Their journey was hard, filled with labor, pain, sweat, and tears.

John and Naomi’s attraction was instantaneous. The way they both interact shows clearly how they feel and I found it amusing at times how John tries to discourage Naomi in her pursuit of him. John struggles with his identity of being half-pawnee and half-white. For him, it is difficult to imagine someone like Naomi being interested in him. He is carrying around emotional and psychological baggage from his past that threatens to put his relationships in jeopardy. I liked how vulnerable John was and how he showed us his insecurities. We see him struggling with his identity and often being confused about how he needs to be and what is expected of him.

Naomi is confident, headstrong, and has no qualms about letting her feelings known. She is often criticized for her forwardness and we see how the society at the time looks at women and the expectations around women’s behavior as well. I loved how fierce some she was and how strong her principles were. Her being an artist added to her personality and the overall story. I enjoyed her character.

The journey is described in great detail painting us a vivid picture of the surroundings, the terrain they have to navigate to get to their destination. It helped me visualize it in my mind and aided me in enjoying the story more. The trail is brutal and tough and not meant for the weak. It tested their strengths and pulled them through the roughest paces a person can endure. The book describes the reality of families who set on the path to a better future and having to endure the worst of hardships, sicknesses, and ugliness. This is not a sugar-coated version of the trip and the author pulled no punches in delivering a raw, unimaginably tragic story of love, loss, and hope. The story was challenging to read at times with the descriptions of the arduous journey the families had to go through on the trail. The deaths and sicknesses that came upon the families often brought out the fears and pain that we feel through the pages. As a reader I there along with them feeling everything they were feeling and let me tell you, it was not easy to continue.

The book highlights the nature of humans at their best and worst with powerful storytelling and wonderful characters. Though the journey through the harsh trail is the focal point of this story, with the addition of individual struggles and family dynamics the narrative was richer and had more depth to it. The dual perspective of Naomi and John helps us connect to the characters effectively and immediately.

I was heartbroken and shaken by the time I was through this book. Amy Harmon has done a fantastic job of drawing a rich portrayal of the trail, the people, and their experiences that you cannot help but feel for them strongly. I loved how wonderfully researched it was. The fact that some of the major players in this book are based on real people plus the author’s connection to John Lowry through her husband makes it even more special and extraordinary.

The authentic and respectful portrayal of Native Americans and the settlers is very much appreciated. It helps us understand the conflicts and tensions that ran among the tribes and white people who settled on their lands. I felt that the honest and unbiased portrayal of the cultures and traditions of the Native American tribes added to the rich storytelling.

I highly recommend checking this book out if you love a good, heart-wrenching story of love, loss, hope, and perseverance. This is a slow read and one that is bound to bring tears to your eyes. I loved it and I gave this book 5 stars. This will easily be one of my favorites in historical fiction novels.

SYNOPSIS

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.

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