Where The Lost Wander is a historical romance novel set during an 1853 wagon train trip on the Oregon Trail. Author Amy Harmon’s vivid description of life during a wagon train isn’t near as much fun as my kids had when they played the Oregon Trail video back in the 1990s. The journey was perilous, grueling, and full of heartbreak. The personal challenges and overriding difficulty were unbearable to many.
I chose this book because it is described as a romance. I keep telling myself I should like romance novels, but rarely find one I enjoy. I am happy to say that I liked this one. Naomi May is a twenty-year-old widow when she sets off with her family and her late husband’s family to build a future in California. Naomi is a talented artist and a dreamer. The prologue of the book is a horrific event that chronologically takes place about two-thirds into the novel. We learn that Naomi and her infant brother, Wolf, are abducted by Indians after many they are traveling with are slaughtered. The readers have been forewarned of the shocking violence ahead.
Then the story goes back to St. Joseph, Missouri where the wagon train begins. There Naomi meets shy John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man who was raised by his white father and step-mother after his Indian mother died. He is known as “Two-Feet” because he lives half as a white man and half as an Indian. He was never fully accepted by either group. On the trail, Naomi makes her feelings toward John known but he resists her. He had only intended to travel a small portion of the trip to deliver mules, but once he develops feelings for Naomi, John decides to continue to California. While the two characters are very different, they prove that opposites attract. The tension builds throughout the novel since the reader already knows that Naomi will be ripped away from John and her family. Their love story is both gut-wrenching and heartwarming.
4-Stars. Book Club recommended. There are great discussions about family, survival, persistence, courage, discrimination, sacrifice, grief, survival, and new beginnings.