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Thursday, April 09, 2020

Oregon Trail Adventure/Romance Novel Gives Me All the Feels

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After a short, disappointing marriage, 20-year-old widow Naomi May is ready to move on with life.  Her restless spirit longs for adventure, which is exactly what she gets when she and her family embark on a journey along the Oregon Trail.  What she doesn't expect is to fall in love.  Even though Naomi knows a match between her and John "Two Feet" Lowry, a half-Pawnee muleskinner, would be considered scandalous even in the wild, wild West, she can't help but be drawn to his quiet strength.  As the two trek along the trail with their company, they experience problems of every kind—illness, inclement weather, theft, broken wagon parts, animal stampedes, contention among the travelers, etc.—but when the worst happens, Naomi's heart is ripped in two.  Abducted by hostile Indians, her baby brother ripped from her arms, she fears she'll never see those she loves again.  Will she ever be reunited with her family?  What about John?  And what about all the happiness and prosperity they were hoping to find in Oregon?  When everything else has been stripped away, where does one find the hope to carry on?

Perhaps it's my own pioneer ancestry or the fact that I grew up along The Oregon Trail, but I love me a good wagon trail story.  Where the Lost Wander (available April 28, 2020) by Amy Harmon certainly fits the bill.  It's an epic, expansive road trip novel that offers adventure, excitement, romance, heartbreak, and joy.  Harmon's vivid prose helped me put myself in my ancestors' place and really feel these characters' emotions—everything from boredom with the monotony of walking the trail to frustration with slow wagons and nasty weather to fear of attack by man and beast to the excitement and wonder of first love and childbirth to the sorrow of loss and grief.  Harmon doesn't romanticize the pioneer experience, but she does capture it in all its glorious triumph and agony. I loved Naomi and John, with their respective family and friends.  While none of them gets an entirely happy ending, our leading lad and lady do receive a satisfying and hopeful one.  If you can't tell, I loved this book, which swept me away, making me laugh, cry, and celebrate the indomitable strength and spirit of my own ancestors, who—like the May Family—risked their lives to find a place of safety and refuge far away, in the West.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder; Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee; Heart's Journey by Kristen McKendry; The Gold Seer trilogy [Walk On Earth a Stranger; Like a River Glorious; and Into the Bright Unknown] by Rae Carson; and The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Where the Lost Wander from the generous folks at Lake Union Publishing via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


  1. This is a gritty read! Loved the characters and great sense of place!

  2. This would be a different setting for me.Thanks for the rec!

  3. I haven’t read a book like this for a long time. And I need to change that. Thanks! I’ll put this one on my list.

  4. Sounds lovely, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  5. I love a good pioneer/wagon/homesteading book, too. Must be in our blood. :D

  6. I am not really into these books, but I love that you loved this novel. I do think there aren't enough well written novels about this time history so am glad this one is so good. I'll recommend it to friends who would be interested.

  7. I have this as one of my books for the Popsugar challenge and your review has made me happy with that decision. I really want to read this one. Great review Susan. I do love Historical fiction.


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