Where the Lost Wander – 4.5 Star Review

“If nothing matters, then there’s no point. If everything matters, there’s no purpose. The trick is to find firm ground between the two ways of being.”

-Amy Harmon, Where the Lost Wander

Okay 90’s kids, THIS IS FOR YOU! If you grew up in the 90’s or even early 2000’s, you probably played a little computer game called The Oregon Trail. Maybe it was only at school or maybe you had the luxury of owning the CD-ROM (I was the latter), but if you’re like most of us who experienced this game you’ve now developed a fond, nostalgic feeling for The Oregon Trail. When “Where the Lost Wander” was shared as a recommendation in Monthly Book Club I knew I had to jump on this book because it is set during the Oregon Trail era. Bonus points that it is (at the time of this posting) only $4.99 for purchase as an eBook and it’s also on Kindle Unlimited. Take my money, just take it!

Where the Lost Wander has alternating points of view between Naomi and John. Naomi is traveling with her family in a wagon train as they set out looking to settle in the rich lands of California in 1853. John is a half white, half Native American boy who helps his father breed and sell mules to travelers and trading posts. John and Naomi immediately gravitate toward each other, even as John fights the connection between them initially. The journey and their own pasts work against them, especially when their group is confronted with a Native American group. John helps navigate these rough waters (pun intended, Oregon Trail joke) as he has some background knowledge with the language and customs. However, since he is only “half” Native American, he is not exactly welcomed by this group any more than he is Naomi’s wagon train. Soon Naomi and John are separated by a devastating event leading each to discover how strong they are (or have to be) and how to endure to find one another in order to build a new life together.

I really loved this book! To my personal disappointment, there is a little less “Oregon Trail” plot and much more action and turmoil between Naomi/John and the Native Americans. But, that is okay! This book is paced very well to keep things moving and I did not want to put it down. The book presents us with socially-appropriate circumstances for the time period. Yes, the Native Americans seem harsh and intimidating but people were encroaching on their land, taking their resources. It’s justifiable anger and resentment. There are also much “softer” views included within the Native American groups, where great love and mutual respect are given to John and Naomi as “outsiders”. This book is considered a romance historical fiction but it’s much more than that. It’s about finding yourself, finding how you fit in and being okay with yourself when others are not. I would include a trigger warning with this, because there is one rape scene in the back half of the book. It is not overly descriptive, but it does occur.

I have never read a book by Amy Harmon before but I absolutely plan to read more by her! I was surprised to see that Harmon writes across several different genres, including fantasy and they all look great! If you’re longing for Oregon Trail story (I could do with so many more of these!!) I would highly recommend this for you. It will make your 90’s-kid heart happy….and then sad….and then warm and fuzzy.

Review by Kelly

Leave a Reply