Where the Lost Wander

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 May 2020

Member Reviews

Thanks #netgalley #lakeunionpublishing for a free e ARC of #wherethelostwander by Amy Harmon in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

In 1853, newly widowed Naomi May sets out for the West with her family.  On the Oregon Trail which is filled with hardship, danger, and loss, she meets John Lowry. As the journey progresses and becomes more harrowing, they grow closer but their relationship is tested in intense and emotional ways.

If you've read From Sand and Ash or What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon, you know that her stories are beautifully written. A page turner, Where the Lost Wander is filled with historical details and establishes a strong sense of place..... but it is also incredibly sad and difficult to read in places. Don't miss the author's notes detailing her own family history and the real characters upon which this story is based.

This is referred to as a western romance; however, I would categorize it as a love story. Romance connotes a lighter and happily-ever-after story in which romance is the main focus. Where the Lost Wander consists of a significant amount of trauma, challenge, endurance, survival, and hardship. Romance plays a part in this but is not the main focus of the story. It's more about their enduring love, faith in each other, and hope for a bright future.

I have mixed feelings about the Prologue. It is a spoiler for one of the main tragic events in the story. So while I was reading, I was anxious and anticipating this event. I'm not sure if it would be better to begin with Chapter One and skip the Prologue or not. In one way, reading the Prologue will give you a good preview of the intensity of the book's content. If you skip it, you can always go back and read it when you arrive at that point in the story because it does add some details to the event.

Naomi and John are well-drawn, likable, strong-willed, and have great chemistry. John is quiet, hardworking, and introspective while Naomi is an artist, dreamer, and survivor. Because John is half Pawnee and half white they struggle to understand each other and navigate both cultures. John works toward living authentically in a world with his mixed heritage and Naomi is concerned with the safety of her family and her own survival.  As you can see, this story is much more than a romance as they deal with significant threats and compelling personal challenges.  The hardships they face are not treated lightly and the author creates a realistic picture of pioneer trail life.

Poignant themes permeate the story and include themes such as survival, persistence, determination, courage, living with mixed heritage, prejudice, racism, family loyalty, and community.

Overall, this is a well written, well-researched, and well-told story for fans of historical fiction. Equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. Recommended for fans of a western love story, a strong sense of place, and intense historical fiction stories.

***This paragraph may contain spoilers***
Trigger and Content Warnings: heartbreaking and difficult to read passages, violent fighting, reference to a child abuse incident, description of a rape, scalping, massacre, and other pioneer hardships. (if this were a movie I would rate it R). Although this was heartfelt and poignant in places, page-turning, and beautifully written, it was also a tough reading experience for me. If you loved From Sand and Ash and What the Wind Knows, you might be a little surprised with this heavier and grittier content.

Full review will post on www.readingladies.com and other social media on Tuesday April 28, 2020.
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Amy Harmon has outdone herself again. After reading, I could not stop thinking about the story and characters. The way that she deep dives into each of their thoughts and how the relationships tie together keep me turning page after page. I am pleased with the historical research she has done to make sure the story is told in a true form. As I read about the travels, I pictured myself in their shoes. Amy paints an excellent picture (much like Naomi in the story), and I find myself living their truth along with them. 
I cannot recommend this story enough. Amy Harmon has once again written a "must read"!!
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A few things that'll usually be an instant read for me: historical romance, westerns, cultural differences coming together, and Amy Harmon.

THE GOOD
1) The journey on the Oregon Trail feels pretty realistic. At times it's pretty mundane. Sometimes, you're hearing about disease and death. Other times, you're finding camaraderie in the most unlikely ways. And sometimes when you don't want it to happen, friends die in the quickest and most horrible ways.

2) Naomi and John Lowry were likeable characters on their own and likeable together.

3) Occasional moments of deep thought and wisdom.

“Are you angry with the bird because he can fly, or angry with the horse for her beauty, or angry with the bear because he has fearsome teeth and claws? Because he’s bigger than you are? Stronger too? Destroying all the things you hate won’t change any of that. You still won’t be a bear or a bird or a horse. 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.”

________

“I hate them. I hate Indians,” Webb cries, his voice muffled by my shoulder.
“Do you hate me?” I ask quietly. “I’m an Indian.”
“No. I love you.”
“And I love you too. There’s good and bad in all kinds of people. Indians and emigrants alike. Do you remember when Mr. Caldwell set my animals loose?”
“Yeah. I hate Mr. Caldwell too,” Webb sobs.
“Do you remember my friend Hanabi? And Charlie? They helped us. Without Charlie . . . Wyatt and I wouldn’t have made it back to you and the others,” I remind him. “So you be real careful about who you hate.”


4) Romance amid cultural divides that are less romance-centric as Comanche Moon but just as compelling. People who enjoyed the romance and setting of Redeeming Love will appreciate this book as well.

5) Those May boys have my heart. Wyatt, Will, Webb, Wolfe...you are my babies.

THE BAD
1) Not my favorite Amy Harmon book. Something about Naomi May never quite clicked with me in the way that it did for Johm Lowry's dual background, so they didn't quite click together as a couple. What's Amy's normal strength -- character stories so compelling and raw that they'll move your spirits -- doesn't fully take off here. We get the occasional moments, but those moments are too few.

2) The Oregon Trail...is kinda boring, and without a compelling enough character story, the book becomes boring as well in a sense. For a good portion of the book, the caravan travels through the grass together, cooks, shops at forts, and talks.

3) This particular Amy Harmon book drew its Christian allegory from the story of Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams. Loved the concept but again...it wasn't as powerful as we've come to experience from any of Amy's previous work.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I may have only rated it three stars instead of the usual four or five... but you just feel good after reading an Amy Harmon book, you know?
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Thanks To Lake Union Publishing, NetGalley and Amy Harmon for my copy of: Where The Lost Wander.

In 1853, twenty year old widow Naomi May Caldwell  joins her family when they decide to travel West on The Overland Trail and begin the long trip go to Oregon. Her parents are William and Winifred May, her older brother Warren and his wife Abigail and her brothers Wyatt, Webb, and Will are all traveling together.

Grant Abbott is the wagon master, he's in charge of guiding the 40 families along the trail, it will take five months and it's a 2000 mile journey. It's not going to be easy, most of the women and children will need to walk to ease the burden on the oxen, they will constantly have to deal with dirt, dust, snakes, insects and diseases. They will need to ford rivers and cross mountains and barren deserts, worry about Indians attacking the wagon train and stealing their livestock.

Naomi was only married to her husband Daniel Caldwell for three months when he passed away, yes she mourned her husbands death, she cried, she was consumed by grief, traveling West is a way of her starting again and leaving the sad memories behind her. She's pretty, smart, has spunk, loves her family and she's a very talented artist. She has a very close relationship with her family, especially her mother, even though her in laws are traveling west on the same wagon train she has decided to travel with her family and help her pregnant mother.

Following the tracks of the previous wagons, heavily pregnant Winifred May notices the first of many graves on the side of the road on the fifth day of traveling, she continues walking and she knows it's going to be a long and very dangerous trip.

Traveling part of the way with them is the handsome John Lowry, he's delivering mules to an army fort, Naomi notices John is different, he sets off riding his horse, leading his two donkeys and twelve mules and he shows very little emotion when he leaves his father John and step mother Jennie behind? John is actually part Indian his mother was Pawnee and he's always struggled with finding his place in the world and he's a loner. His strong features, tanned skin and dark hair are things about himself that he can't change, Naomi likes him, finds him very attractive and has no issues with him being part Indian.
It becomes very obvious that Naomi and John are very interested in each other?
John is very cautious as he knows being part Indian and being seen with a white lady can only cause grief and trouble for him. 

Unfortunately the group of pioneers do experience tragedy, heart breaking loss and danger as they travel West. But they also experience joy, the birth of new baby and the sweetness of new love. Amy Harmon has a way with words, while reading the book it's very easy to be swept away by the story and you feel like you are traveling every step with the wagon train. You can almost hear the sounds of the animals plodding along, harnesses creaking, wheels screeching, the foot steps of the women and children as they walk, how weary they feel and how they long for a decent meal.

I absolutely loved Where The Lost Wander, I enjoy reading historical fiction about pioneering families traveling to Oregon, this is one of the best books I have read, I highly recommend it and I gave it five stars.
I have shared my review on Goodreads, Twitter and my blog.
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Where the lost Wander is absolutely wonderful storytelling. I do have a great fondness for books set in the Oregon trail which don't focus on religion or get all preachy but are authentic tales of everyday folk setting off into the unknown.
Lake Union Publishing have provided most of the very best I've ever read in this vein and Where the lost Wander is no exception, its a great read.

This story has the added bonus of a deep and abiding (but not soppy)  love story, fabulous storytelling and great characters and is totally gripping throughout.

It is a little unusual in that it begins with a brief chapter describing a horrifying tragic event which happens half way through the story. Oh my goodness we are thrown straight into horror and tragedy!

We are then taken back, to much earlier in the journey when everyone is setting off for Oregon full of hope and we are introduced to the May Family, the members of which we grow to know and love despite knowing what befalls them.

As Young widowed Naomi falls in love with John Lowry, the half American half Pawnee mule trader, and he with her, as the family journey deeper into the unknown, I was wanting to scream at them to beware, I wanted to look out for them and it was quite heartbreaking to know there was nothing I could do. I then grew a touch complacent and thought what I had read must have been an awful dream. Naomi's Mother does have prophetic dreams and I told myself that's all it was a horrible nightmare. 

But it wasn't and when it does happen I'm glad I was forewarned as if it had suddenly been thrust into this lovely and peaceful journey without warning I honestly don't think I could have coped.

I won't say any more as I don't want to be guilty of any spoilers, everyone must enjoy this book as much as I did. I was actually heartbroken when it came to an end and feel quite bereft in the aftermath of such emotions that the book created. Superb.
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Old school western romance, but absolutely beautifully written. Stunning prose, and a plot that leaves me amazed!The word that comes to mind as I reflect on this book is: rich. The writing, the storytelling, the characters, the pacing, literally every facet of the book is exquisitely done.
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I've read many books by Amy Harmon and I've enjoyed all of them.

My favorite genre is western historical, especially one with a wagon train theme. So I was eager to read the author's description of travel on the Oregon trail. This was not a cookie cutter story of other books with the same theme. The hardship and determination of the characters resonated with me. This is a thought provoking book and I look forward to expanding my review on Goodreads as it gets closer to its release date.
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Wow! What a read. I loved Where the Lost Wander. Amy Harmon does it again!!! I have loved everything I've read by her. What a compelling story and a page turner. Thank you for the opportunity to read. I will be sure to recommend to friends when published!
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Amy Harmon keeps astounding me with the amount of research and effort she puts into every book. From Irish history to now the wild west, she makes sure to leave no stone unturned in making her stories authentic. There's also a tone of sincerity all her writing.

At the very beginning on her author's note, she makes it clear that the characters in this story are real, and people she has a real connection with. But it was the prologue that kind of drew me in immediately. And even though the pacing of the first half was a little slower than my liking, the anticipation of what was to come kept me keen.

Naomi May is a young widow traveling with her big family through the Overland trail. John Lowry is a man that has never felt like he belonged anywhere because of his half-pawnee roots. But when he meets Naomi, he finally feels that sense of belonging. Their courtship starts off as measured because of his reluctance. But there are external challenges too - danger, diseases death and loss. But these things only work to bring them closer.

It was the second half, the point onward after the prologue that made the story for me. Amy Harmon has a way of writing tragedy in a way that it does not turn into melodrama. Her writing has a thoughtful way of focusing more on the courage of the characters with which they deal with tragedy. In this book also, Naomi's courage wrenched my heart in a way that perhaps her breaking down wouldn't. The characters are all put in an impossible situation in the end and the resolution also seems impossible

Almost all the books by this author have magical realism to it. And while that may turn some readers off, I feel that it helps me understand the people in her books better.

It's almost surreal in this day and age to read about the struggle people went through in traveling from one state to another in search for better lives. Then there is the struggle of the man who is half-pawnee and has a hard time being in peace with himself. It's surreal that even though the times have changed, the world has not. There are still refugees who risk their lives every day for a better life. There are still minorities who live their lives feeling that they don't belong fully.

And this right here - the ability of this book to make me think so deeply - makes me rate it 5 stars.
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4.5 STARS

Amy Harmon at her best! This is m 4th book by this author and I am sure of one thing after reading it - Amy Harmon can really write. Her prose is beautiful, flow of this story is well-paced and her characters are real-like and fleshed out.

Moreover, with this novel, she proves that she is great author of historical fiction. Firstly What the Wind Knows and now Where the Lost Wander. It was clear that Amy Harmon did her research well and provided detailed depiction of given historical period (she didn't shy away from any drastic parts that were common for crossing Oregon Trail in 19th century) and brought it alive for me. It's the ability that I really treasure in authors of this genre and with this novel, Amy Harmon secured firm place among authors that I read automatically when they release new book. At the end of the book, she even states which characters were real historical figures and what writing libirties she did or did not take to write their story. I loved that!

Now to the story. I have always had this fascination with stories/movies featuring Native Americans so Amy Harmon hit the mark with this novel for me. Thanks to lush writing style and captivating storytelling, Where the Lost Wander turned out ot be very powerful historical novel with strong romantic element. Romance wasn't the sole focus of this story which I was grateful for because I tend to get bored when book is focused only on romance. There were so many other things going on and important topics being discussed, so no, I would not call this historical romance in its traditional meaning.

But even though romance wasn't the most important part of this book, it was still very potent and realistic. Chemistry between John and Naomi was very strong and believable, I truly rooted for them to be together from the very beginning till the end of the book. Author didn't go easy on them (at all !!!) so there was not a single boring moment throughout the whole book when it comes to romance.

I enjoyed this novel thoroughly and cannot wait for more historical fiction by Amy Harmon!
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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! No spoilers. Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Could not put down nor did I want to. Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Maybe even a book club pick.
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I received an ARC copy of this novel from Lake Union Publishers through Netgalley in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.  It has been a long time since I've read historical fiction and when I do read historical novels they are typically about WWII, so I thought I'd read the first few chapters to see if it would catch my attention, and I came up for air two days later after devouring this book!  It will be hard to describe this book in a way that sounds as compelling as the characters and plot of this story are, but I will try.  
     It is 1853 and the May family along with a convoy of others are traveling on the Overland Trail out west.  In this novel we learn the stories of the people in the convoy and the brutal trip they faced on their journey.  It was bleak at times and also very inspiring.  I highly recommend it.
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I have not read a western in a long time and I was truly enthralled until I finished it!  Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon is a historical fiction set in 1853 about a wagon train of Pioneers traveling from Missouri to California across the Oregon Trail.  It describes the hardships and loss that they encounter along the way.  I could not put this book down.  I recommend this book and want to read more by this author.  Thank you to NetGalley and Publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Naomi and John's story on The Overland Trail in 1853 is heartbreaking as much as it is heartwarming. I love historical fiction but this story is more than just fiction, its Amy Harmon’s families’ story enriched and imagined from stories passed on by ancestors. I hope everyone who reads this book takes the time to read the Author’s Note to get more insight on how Naomi and John’s story came to be. As someone who is fascinated with genealogy, the details that Harmon shared were so interesting. I walked away from this book with a deep sense of familial pride that Harmon has for her and her husband’s ancestry. She intertwines facts with fiction so beautifully. Harmon also did a wonderful job covering some difficult to read and sensitive topics. I highly recommend Where the Lost Wander!

My thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for my review. 

#NetGalley #WheretheLostWander
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A harrowing, heartbreaking and incredible tale of love, family and hearbreak set on the American Frontier. Amy Harmon is one of those authors that breathe beauty and life in her tales. Once you read that first page, you're swept into the characters lives, what they are going through and are flipping the pages wanting what is coming next. Naomi and John's (Two Feet) story is absolutely riveting.  Falling in love during the hardship of traveling by wagon train is hard but what a ride it is. The misery is apparent yet they are happy. I'm not going to give anything away. Readers are going to read this in one sitting...at most two. It's just that good. Thank goodness we have authors like this who pour their hearts into their writing. What an amazing read this was.
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Release Date April 28, 2020

​This was the Okayest book that I loved the most. This book and I got off to kind of a rocky start. The initial writing, particularly dialogue made me question its historical accuracy. I am not a historian, so it is probably perfect, maybe just different than I was expecting. There was a big chunk of “memory” that maybe should have been sprinkled throughout the book instead of just dumped near the beginning. Hopefully, that will be corrected, since this was an advance copy… With that being said, I loved this book more with every page I read.

I have been into historical fiction lately and westerns are no exception. I would actually love to see westerns make a comeback. They are such an exciting mix of danger and naïve optimism. This book did a good job of illustrating that people did not put their lives on hold while they were on the trail. They continued their hobbies and work in some cases, got married, and had babies. Can you imagine? Having a baby. On the trail. Westerns are wild.

Naomi and John are fun, strong-willed characters that play off each other nicely. Amy Harmon does a good job of writing the sexual tension between the two characters and it helps add to the excitement of the story. It was amazing to find out that John Lowry and many other characters in this book were real people with a personal connection to the author. Don’t miss the author’s note, it was one of my favorite things about this book.
     
This is a western expansion, soft romance. If you like wagon trains, pioneers, settlers, Indians and sexual tension with no sex, this is the book for you. Fans of the ancient series Into the West (2005) will love this book. If you are looking for a western with no romance try News of the World.
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Where the Lost Wander is a historical romance - a love story between John and Naomi during their trek toward the west.  It depicts the hardship, sacrifice, fear, and death the people face along the way.  Naomi is a widower and John is half white and half Pawnee.  They are an unlikely pair, but they bonded and fell in love through all the adversity.  There is a lot going in this book than a love story to really summarize.  The dynamic of Naomi’s family.  John’s life struggles as a half-Pawnee man half white yet a stranger in both world.  Life and death on the Overland Trail, the tragedy, and the sacrifice they faced.  The details of the landscapes described was quite remarkable, beautiful, vivid, and well researched. There is a bit of violence and a few other triggers that were a little difficult for me  What can I say, I like roses and sunshine but that wouldn’t be real, would it? There isn’t a lot of hot and heavy scenes either given the timeline, but very romantic in a beautiful, old fashion kind of way.  If you love historical romance, you must read this.  It’s a heartbreaking, inspiring story about love, loss, sacrifice, and new beginnings.  Must I say the author’s writing is exquisite? I suspect you already knew that!

One of my favorite historical romance.  Simply STUNNING!
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Can you imagine traveling by wagon train from Illinois to Missouri all the way to California? The immense hardship and loss. Strength and perseverance. Love and family. John Lowry is one of my all time favorite characters. His Indian name, Two feet, given because he straddles both the white world and the world of his mother. And Naomi, the only daughter in a family full of boys with aging parents who need and rely on her. I can relate! I loved her story and admired her determination.
A great story for those who love history and the human desire to dream of a better life.
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Where the Lost Wander was an enjoyable story about an emigrant train on the Oregon Trail. The story alternates between the two love interests. Naomi - a young widow traveling with her parents and brothers - and John Lowry - a half Pawnee half white young man looking for a new start. The story is not light with many details about the hardships the emigrants encountered along the trail. I enjoyed both main characters and the development of their relationship. The ending felt rushed and little incomplete to me.
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Where the Lost Wander is historical fiction written during the westward movement in American history.  I have always been most fascinated by this time period and have personally traveled along the Platte River and into Wyoming following the trail described in this book.  Having seen the terrain and the landmarks described in this book myself I was easily able to imagine the trials of the pioneers and their wagon train.  The details of the book were well researched and written beautifully.  The characters of John, Naomi, and the May family were believable and I was drawn into their struggles, sorrows, and joys.  I commend the author for not shying away from the difficult topics and hardships that pioneers on the trails west faced, however these incidents will be difficult for some readers.  
I look forward to enthusiastically recommending this book and I give thanks to  NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book and I am providing this, my unbiased review and opinion.

I will post this review to Goodreads closer to the time of its release.
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