• Busy Brunette

Book Review: Where the Lost Wander

Where the Lost Wander is the story of Naomi May and her family and their journey west on the Oregon Trail.

I have honestly never read about The Oregon Trail and my minimal lessons about it in school didn’t do it much justice. There’s no doubt about it, our ancestors were tough. They had to deal with nearly unfathomable circumstances and continue on, despite pain, loss, illness, and death. Harmon paints this picture perfectly, and it’s obvious she really did her research in the sheer level of detail she shares regarding the time period as well as the cultures, customs, journey, etc.

Told from dual points of view, John Lowry is one of the mule handlers assigned to help the May family and the rest of their group through various crossings, however, we quickly realize that John, who happens to be half white half Native American, has his heart set on Naomi, making him decide between the life he would leave behind and the potential path he could have if he stays with the wagon train.

At the end of the book, Harmon shares that many of the characters were actually real, including John Lowry, who was based off of a five-times great grandfather. Hearing this made me view the story entirely differently, and only continued my research about the characters and the time period further. I feel like I would’ve viewed the story in a very different way knowing that it wasn’t entirely fictional, so I thought that was important to know going into it.

Overall, this book was pretty great. It told a very vivid, not often discussed story of not only the Oregon Trail and the brave settlers who moved west, but also of the tension between pioneers and Native Americans. It gave unique insights into both groups and really shed light on the challenges each faced during this time. If you are looking for a historical fiction work that’ll teach you something while also ripping your heart out, curl up with this one and get ready for an epic ride, full of longing, risk, and hope.

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