Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Where the Lost Wander will be published on April 28, 2020. 

While I used to read a lot of it, Historical Fiction hasn’t been my genre of choice for awhile. That made me a little hesitant going into Where the Lost Wander, but Amy Harmon’s beautiful writing definitely made me a fan again.

I may be dating myself here, but who remembers playing Oregon Trail as a kid? Where you cheered if your wagon made it across a river without capsizing or losing an oxen and you hoped the character named after you wouldn’t die from dysentery. It was a fun, supposedly educational game, but it wasn’t more than that. This book made those aspects of the game we laughed at feel real and horrifying. How easily sickness could spread through a group and kill multiple people. How if a wagon capsized while crossing water, everything a family owned could be lost. Harmon does an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of what life on the trail looked like.

That said, the story felt extremely slow paced, as it focused mostly on the day-to-day tasks on the trail or with a Native American tribe. Don’t get me wrong, I was deeply invested in the characters and their journey. Harmon’s writing is just as beautiful as it always is and that kept me reading. It just took me a little longer to read this book than I would expect for a book this size. The pace was slow and not a lot really happened for much of it, but I think it’s a testament to Harmon that those things didn’t really lessen my enjoyment of the story.

The story is told through dual POVs of Naomi and John and I thought it was used very effectively. I absolutely loved John. I found Naomi a little frustrating at times, but I did like her overall, as well as her family. I liked Chief Washakie and his friendship with John. And, of course, I really shipped the romance between John and Naomi. It wouldn’t be any Amy Harmon book without an epic romance and she definitely delivered.

Overall, I enjoyed Where the Lost Wander. Though it was a little slower paced than I like, I really loved the characters and the writing. I am impressed by how much research Harmon did for this book and how she really made the Oregon trail come alive. I definitely recommend this one to fans of Historical Fiction.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

8 thoughts on “Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

  1. I’m a big fan of this review. You basically told me everything I wanted to know. I don’t read a ton of historical fiction, but every once in a while I like it. I had been avoiding this one because I wasn’t really interested in the topic. (Even after playing Oregon Trail as a kid!) I just thought it would be depressing — like you mentioned how everything in that games is real. Add in that slow pace (I’ve read that in other reviews.), and I don’t know if I can bring myself to read this one despite the magic of Amy Harmon’s writing. Maybe I’ll wait until my kiddo is back in school and try to listen to it.

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  4. Look at me, reading posts from April. I’m totally getting caught up!! *facepalm*

    Anyway, great review!! As you know, the only Harmon book I’ve read so far is Making Faces, but this one sounds good as well. I don’t mind historical fiction that is realistic as long as that realisticness (new word lol) is tempered with hope. Lots of times in history have been incredibly difficult, but the reason that people persevered through them was because they had hope that their future was going to be better for themselves and for their children.

    My husband and I were just reminiscing about the Oregon Trail game the other day. Our favorite part was, of course, naming people in the wagon after people who you were annoyed with that day, and then ruthlessly not stopping to rest when they got sick haha The game may not have taught us much about history, but it definitely helped us out with revenge! 😀

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