Cover Image: The Reckless Kind

The Reckless Kind

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Member Reviews

I received this egalley as part of the ALAN conference and it is kept on a kindle in my classroom. My rating is based on the fact that my students have enjoyed this title and I look forward to when I get the chance to read it.
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I really have to wonder what took me so long to pick this up, because once I did I found it so hard to put down! This is a great exploration of love in its many forms and facets, community and chosen family, and finding ways to thrive while living with disabilities. I loved the dynamics between Asta, Erlend, and Gunnar and them working to make their family something that fulfills each person. I also really enjoyed the community elements and Asta growing closer with various members of Muskoxen to realize she’s not as isolated as she’d been feeling due to her heterochromia, white striped hair, and being deaf in one ear. The build up to the Christmas Day race was so well done and really built the tension and excitement. Truly such a great book and I loved so much about all the interpersonal dynamics and developments.
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I really enjoyed this book. It would be great for any who feels different. The main character has hearing loss, one has lost his arm, and they are all part of the LGBTQ community. It is set in the early 1900s and was genuinely very heartwarming and I loved all of the characters.  One star taken away because it did drag a little in the middle.
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Unfortunately a DNF. I wanted to like this so badly, but the characters just felt two-dimensional at best.
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The entire time reading this, I felt like I was playing catch-up with the story. The book is a bunch of lovely scenes arranged in chronological order that are missing a red thread to connect them all together.

The book is set in 1904 Norway where our three main protagonists, Asta, Gunnar and Erlend are living in a smaller town on the cusp of adulthood. All three are on the edges of society: Asta is an outspoken girl with Waardenburg syndrome who is discovering her asexuality, Gunnar is a Pagan queer boy who becomes disabled over the story and Erlend, a rich, half-French eccentric who is very gay and very anxious.
The story follows them as they decide to all move in with each other, defy any notions of propriety like getting married, and start looking for ways to support their new living situation.

I was a fan of the setting: their town feels lived in, we have a large support cast and I liked the care Heath took when talking about disability, queerness and more that sounds true to the time period without falling back on outdated language entirely.
Asta was also my favourite character of the three. She knows what she wants and stands up for herself while being comfortable with the fact that she doesn't have her whole identity figured out yet. She is a rock for her two friends that they can rely on. I'd honestly wished we had more scenes with all three since I wanted to see more of how their queerplatonic relationship would look like since it was part of the initial reason why the events unfolded as they did. And a special shoutout to Fred who was my favourite side character and I would totally read a full book about him.
Otherwise, the plot seems simple enough after that. It was a fun time despite the many injuries everyone aquired (reminded me a bit of [book:The Scorpio Races|10626594] but without magic, to be honest).

But as much as I liked the overall story, I could never fully settle into the book for two reason, both connected to writing. For one, any time skip is always introduced too late in the narrative; you are halfway into a new scene before you realize weeks or even months have passed! The fact that you could not tell from the character's interactions, the scenery or anything else kind of speaks as to underdeveloped the characters are (kind of). Which brings me to the second part: while the characters all go through an emotional journey and experience growth, the writing does not really show that. Each scene tells you about how Erlend might feel but we don't see that progression, we don't see these moments of change. We just see the pitstops on the way. In part it's because the writing favours to tell you think (which I personally don't find a cardinal as some others might, some of my favourite authors are excellent with telling vs. showing) but it stay unconnected.
It left Gunnar's arc somewhat of a mystery despite having his POV and having Erlend spend large portions of time with him.

There are many other small things that bothered me (the money situation and how it (didn't) get resolved), how plots and characters were introduced too late) but the large cast of interesting people kept me going.


If you are looking for a historical YA with marginalized readers in mind with a simple plot, a loveable cast and an honest look at 1900's life, including injuries and terrible parenting, give it a try. You might like the writing or not but I do think it's worth your time.
I will be interested to see what Cathy Hearth writes next because while I had my troubles with her writing style I think there is definitely something there.
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This is a queer historical fiction with disabled characters and non traditional relationships. Well written and important.
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A sweet story with some really lovely rep! I loved the idea of a queerplatonic triad, and I really enjoyed the friendship between our three main characters. I found the gay and ace rep to be super wonderful, and while I can't speak on its accuracy I can say that it felt very genuine and joyful. The plot itself did seem to drag and didn't provide much of a payoff - I spent a decent chunk of the story feeling bored and wondering when the action would pick up. While the relationships are really nice, they didn't provide enough of a boost for the book to feel completely interesting. I think the story could have been shorter and more concise to pack more of a punch.
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I was really excited about this book for the setting and representation, but it had a weird pace, lacked description, and felt a little unorganized. There was a lot of dialogue and little to describe what is happening in the scent. The dialogue felt very fast, almost like a slapstick vibe. The bigger plot parts seem to go in only a few lines while more mandate parts take paragraphs. I do think that this will be a book that the characters stick with me!
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definitely an amazing historical story , with characters so diverse and unique, the plot was just what I needed in this moment
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Due to illness at the time I was not around to download this to read before it was archived, but thank you for the opportunity.
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This was an addictive read that really stole my heart and warmed me right to my very core. With one of my all time favourite troupes, Found Family, the three main characters Asta, Gunnar and Erland were awe-inspiring, overcoming all their odds, as their friendships grew and made them stronger together, in a society that is constantly letting them down. It is told from two points of view: Asta and Erlands. I just wished I could have had a Gunnar point of view also, though it didn't take away from the book. Such a diverse cast of characters to fall in love with, and I did just that with the brilliant Fuglestad family. It is such a captivating story with a great writing style, set in a historical Scandinavian setting.  Perfect book for the colder months, and a dazzling debut novel.
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3.5? A really beautiful and inclusive story that could have benefited from a bit more character development and improved pacing. Three queer & disabled teens fight to live their lives on their own terms in a small Norwegian town in the early 1900s. I loved the message behind this story and the youths' relationships, and really wanted to rate it higher, but there were a few too many plot points that felt sudden and forced in order to get the characters to the place the author wanted them to be. A really worthwhile read nevertheless -- I want more historical fiction like this!
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I honestly don’t know where to start with this novel. I was sure from the first few chapters that I would absolutely love it, and I was correct in that thinking! The more I read though, the more I was caught up in the characters and the plot. So by the time I had nearly finished reading I didn’t want to have to leave these beautiful characters and the world they created for themselves behind.

I am nearly overwhelmed with how wonderful these characters are. It could be said that the plot of the novel itself was quite simple, but cleverly so, as I felt it needed to be to help the characters shine. They are, after all, the stars of this novel. What I loved most about these characters I think is how they adapted in a world that wasn’t quite ready for them yet. They were alienated in their own hometown for things they couldn’t control – their looks, whom they loved, or even just for injuries out of the characters control.  Through this they persevered with a unique strength and togetherness which managed to make me quite emotional multiple times.

Each of the main characters was wonderfully fleshed out and felt so real to me as I read. I loved that Heath wrote this story with multiple points of view. Told in first person, each narrating character had their own unique voice and perspective which helped to make this the magical novel that it is. After a few chapters I didn’t feel the need to check the name at the beginning of each chapter to find out who was narrating, the language used and even the names used by each narrator for certain characters made for some individual character voices. I think this is something that Heath has done so well, as she has really brought me into each characters mind – how they think and feel.

Something else I was really impressed with was the amount of research Heath did into the terms for certain things within her novel. She included sexualities, disabilities, and different injuries all without using the very specific terms that we would use today but did so in such a way that meant the reader understood. She also made sure that though she was using a language of a different time period, that she kept the language such that it (where possible) was least impactful for a reader today, but without taking away from the experience of the character. This is a testament to Heath’s almost magical way with language, so much so that she can draw you into the minds and worlds of the main characters and make you want to stay with them.

As mentioned before the plot of this novel was rather simplistic, but done so in such a beautiful way, it pushed the characters to shine on their own merit. Enhancing the novel as a whole. In this way the characters brought the plot to life which I loved. The only thing I had a little trouble with though was pacing. At times things did feel a little slow, but it in no way marred my enjoyment of the novel. The romance involved was beautifully subtle, but with big heart – and here I mean romance in the sense of both romantic and platonic (yes, I used the word romance in the terms of the platonic). The closeness of the main characters, whether romantic or platonic took found family to a new level, and while the romance between Erland and Gunnar was the main focus, I found the friendship Asta had with the two boys so much more tangible, as well as the other connections the trio made with other outsiders. It was so nice to delve into a novel where the friendships felt just as cared for in the writing process as the main romance itself.

The Reckless Kind is such a beautifully written, emotional, and powerful story about friendship, trust, and embracing the things about yourself which make you unique. It is also about finding your people, the ones who love you for the things that others may shun you for, and sticking with them through whatever comes your way. This was an amazing read, and I highly recommend it for those who want to read a historical fiction novel that pushes the genre in the best way possible.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy), I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 9th November 2021.
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I really love what Heath does for disability rep in The Reckless Kind. There is so much of it; every main character has some form of disability, either physical or mental, and they are all allowed to go through the full spectrum of emotions - the characters suffer, and they lash out and make poor decisions under the weight of pain and guilt, but they also triumph and achieve their goals and find ways to ensure their own autonomy. There's also some excellent queer rep, particularly in terms of Asta questioning her sexuality and coming to terms with her desire for queerplatonic relationships (even if she doesn't have the terminology for it). I loved Asta's relationship with Fred, Gunnar and Erland and how comfortable they all were with each other.

That said, I found the plot rather bumpy. We speed through a lot of plot points in the first fifty pages that aren't given much time to breathe, and it often felt like characters made decisions just to kick the plot along, rather than because it made sense for what we knew about them at that point (including a rather egregious case of insta-romance between Erlend and Gunnar). At times, it felt rather like rather like reading a soap opera.

I also wasn't sold on the early 1900s Norway setting. There was a good sense of time - Heath talks about how she sought to portray attitudes in a way that was reflective of the period, which shows - but not much sense of place. This book could have been set in any generic wintery country (including a fantasy land) and it wouldn't have made any difference to the overall outcome, which was a shame - I've never really read anything set in Norway before and was looking forward to this element.

Disability rep is often underlooked when we talk about representation, and I really hope other authors take notes from Heath's work in this book - because even if I didn't love everything about it, it's a great example of how to do disability rep in a meaningful way.
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The Reckless Kind ended up on my Most Anticipated list for the second half of the year so when I saw there was a blog tour happening I had to sign up. Set in 1904 Norway, we follow three friends; Asta, Erland and Gunnar as they resist living the lives their parents want for them and set out to make their own paths. The only way they find that they can do this is by winning the prize money that comes with winning the annual Christmas horse race. 

That's the bones of the plot but there's so much more to this book then it's initial premise. I usually read historical fiction that has a main mystery element to it so one with more contemporary themes was a different pace for me but this book has so much heart and positivity to it. 

Personally, I found the writing to be one of this books strongest points. Whilst it wasn't particularly quotable, it had such a warmth to it. It's also very relevant for the time period it's set in. A lot of historical novels will either use to much modern language which takes you out of the story or over use old fashioned terms which make it clunky to read. This one has the perfect balance, the author never felt like she was trying to hard to fit the time period with the language but it was still true to it and you can tell a lot of research went into this book to make it authentic. 

This is a very character driven story. Asta, Erland and Gunnar are a band of outcasts that are struggling to fit into their small community and create a family of their own when they feel they no longer have one. I adored this trio so, so much, I felt their bond immediately and it was beautiful to see a group of people just being able to completely be themselves around each other especially in the early 1900s. We get two POV's which I initially found a little strange with their being three main characters but I actually think it worked for the best. Asta has the biggest voice and was my personal favourite. I love a gutsy, fighting heroine defying the stereotypes places upon her in historical fiction. Erland is our other voice and he is such a generous and loving soul that tries to always do the best by people. Together we get to know Gunnar through them and honestly he just needs to be wrapped up in a blanket and smothered with cuddles.   

The representation in here is fantastic for disability and mental health. Asta is asexual and exploring how she feels about not wanting to marry and have children as is tradition for young women. We get to see her figuring out her feelings and I think it was really well done. She's also partially deaf something that the author also experiences so it was interesting for the author to create this character that appears so different and how she is perceived by her town. Gunnar and Erland are both gay (and in the most precious relationship) whilst not open about it initially are still very proud of their sexuality. We also have a few other conditions represented such as Erland's anxiety, Gunnar's depression and Brown-Sequard syndrome and another character has a case of post-concussion syndrome. All of these are handled with care and whilst I can't comment on all of them, Erland's anxiety for me was represented really well. 

Overall, whilst the pacing was a little slow at times and I felt like the ending could've been extended slightly, I really loved the voice this book gave to so many areas of representation. It's wonderfully written, exudes kindness and will have you sobbing happy tears by the end. If you're looking for a found family, animal loving, queer historical novel, then look no further then The Reckless Kind.
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This was lovely and unlike anything I've ever read.

The summary: 

"It's Norway 1904, and Asta Hedstrom doesn't want to marry her odious betrothed, Nils—even though a domestic future is all her mother believes she's suited for, on account of her single-sided deafness, unconventional appearance, and even stranger notions. Asta would rather spend her life performing in the village theater with her friends and fellow outcasts: her best friend Gunnar Fuglestad and his secret boyfriend, wealthy Erlend Fournier.

But the situation takes a dire turn when Nils lashes out in jealousy—gravely injuring Gunnar. Shunning marriage for good, Asta moves with Gunnar and Erlend to their secluded cabin above town. With few ties left with their families, they have one shot at gaining enough kroner to secure their way of life: win the village's annual horse race."

A testament to found family and the freedom of accepting what makes you different, THE RECKLESS KIND is beautifully written and important. It meaningfully touches on unconditional love and defying suffocating social traditions, while taking you on an engaging and tender journey.x

The main characters are all queer and disabled, and Carly beautifully handles these sensitive representations. Other things you'll love in this book:

-supportive friendship that defies everything
-lots of animal-saving
-Asta is ace, has an unconventional appearance, and works as a blacksmith
-platonic relationships are treated with equal importance as romantic relationships
-sex positive and ace-positive
-cozy cabin vibes
-rural Scandinavian setting

This was well worth the read. Take note:

CW:
-mentions of child abuse
-a violent altercation
-suicidal ideation
-parent death
-bodily injury

A big thanks to Soho Teen and Netgalley for the e-book in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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This book was smart, heartfelt, and beautifully written. I absolutely loved the queer rep in a historical setting, and this one (Norway in the early 1900s) was truly unique, and very unlike a lot of the YA that's out there right now.

What stood out to me the most was the strong friendships and deeply layered interactions. The story starts with Asta and her close friend Gunnar, then expands to their mutual friend Erland, and it just keeps branching out in this intricate web to include more family, friends, and inhabitants of the town, getting more and more engrossing as it goes. I especially loved all the culture and well-researched historical details.

I also felt like the mental illness portrayal was handled very well, in that it was never sugar coated but was presented in a sensitive way, and also in a way that felt appropriate to that time period. All in all, this book tackles a lot of really essential topics for teens, without ever getting preachy or pedantic, and with so much heart at all times. I highly recommend that you check it out!
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The Reckless Kind is a historical novel set in a Norway in 1904 and focuses on the lives of three friends; Asta Hedstrom, Gunnar Fuglestad and Erlend Fournier. Asta and Gunnar have known each other since childhood, and they become associated with Erlend through the theatre his father owns. Each of them comes from completely different backgrounds. Gunnar is the son of the local female farrier (horse specialist) and their family has won the village’s annual horse race for the last few years, much to the anger of their neighbours. It isn’t just jealously that fuels this anger; the Fuglestad family are “heathens” (pagans), they do not believe in God or follow the Christian religion. The annual horse race is a celebration of the local Christian saint, and the fact that a heathen family continues to win the race, thus saving the price pig/s from slaughter, infuriates many upstanding men in the village.

In comparison, Erlend comes from an entirely different life; his family are wealthy foreigners and his parents let their son use their theatre to hold plays with his friends in hopes that he’ll grow out of his silliness and settle down eventually. The truth is that Erlend has no interest in settling down, especially not with a woman. He struggles with anxiety, throwing stomach pills down his throat to try to stop the churning he constantly fills. All the while, he puts on a facade that he knows what he’s doing, yet Erlend has never had to do anything for himself or anyone else.

Asta was born Deaf in one ear, heterochromia (different coloured eyes), a white stripe in the front of her hair and with a facial deformity. As Heath points out in her notes at the end of the novel, these are all signs of a condition of Waardenburg Syndrome, however, this syndrome would not be formerly named for another fifty years.

The character of Asta is complete fiction, but the idea for her came from a description of a child that Heath happened upon during her research. What Heath instantly recognised as Waardenburg Syndrome was not how people in a small village in Norway in 1904 would react. She is openly shunned and mocked by her community, kept hidden away by her parents until her two elder sisters had secured husbands. Even to her own family, she was considered an inconvenience, a mistake, and she is made to believe that she must accept Nils’ proposal because no one else will ever accept her.

Friendship is not the only tie that binds these three friends, each one of them is an outcast and that draws them together. When events force them to choose between each other or the people who have never and will never understand them, they choose each other. But standing apart from the wider community isn’t easy, especially for three young people who are disabled, gay (Erlend and Gunnar) and asexual (Asta) and there are more trials and tribulations awaiting them.

(I want to add that while I’m using modern terms in my review, Heath does a fantastic job of remaining within a historical context and refraining from using modern language and concepts.)

While there’s no actual magic in The Reckless Kind, this is a novel that makes it’s own magic. It’s a beautiful story of resilience, identity and belonging, of finding your truth and following your own path. It’s not always easy to do it, and along the way you’re going to stumble and fall (a lot) but in the end you’ll end up where you want to be and with whom you want to be with. The Reckless Kind is a reminder to all of us that our people, the ones who love and care about us for who we are, not what we look like, who we love or what we believe, will always stand by us, and they will walk that path with us.

As I said, I don’t read outside my preferred genres very often, and if you’re the same The Reckless Kind is one book I suggest making an exception for
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This was an amazing book with all the reps under the sun from disabled to LGBT. I think readers that are looking for something new and fresh will want to pick up this debut story.  The dual POV worked well overall but the writing and story did take a few to get into it. But once I got the hand of it I fell in love.
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The Reckless Kind was one of those books that I knew would be delightful before I even picked it up. I worked with Carly on a post about diverse characters in historical fiction and she is so thoughtful that I was positive that she handled these characters with care and I was so right. There is so much heart and soul poured into these characters that everything about them feels like a warm hug. If you are looking for a cozy book for this winer, look no further than The Reckless Kind.

In Norway in 1901, all Asta wants is to be with her best friends, Gunnar and his secret boyfriend Erland, and be herself at the village theater. But it seems like the only future that is planned for her is a domestic life married to Nils, her odious betrothed. When Nils jealously lashes out at Gunnar and gravely injures him, Asta shuns marriage forever and moves in with Gunnar and Erland. Together this found family must figure out a way to survive on their own in the quaint and loving life they've built for themselves. 

Carly Heath creates a wonderfully cozy world in The Reckless Kind. The love that all three of these characters have for each other is so deep and genuine, they make such a wonderful found family. You can tell that there is so much heart and love that was put into each of character and it shines so brightly in their relationships with each other. This entire book felt like a warm literary hug. I love the way that Asta, Erland, and Gunnar find a home in each other and are working toward building a life together. It's simple and it is beautiful in its simplicity. It's a wonderful winter read for curling up by the fire with a cup of tea.
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