Title: The Beloved Wild
Author: Melissa Ostrom (Debut)
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Format: Physical ARC
Release Date: March 28, 2018 from Fiewel & Friends
* I received this physical ARC from the author via the publisher in exchange for review. This doesn’t influence my opinion and all thoughts are my own*
Goodreads Synopsis: Harriet Winter is the eldest daughter in a farming family in New Hampshire, 1807. Her neighbor is Daniel Long, who runs his family’s farm on his own after the death of his parents. Harriet’s mother sees Daniel as a good match, but Harriet isn’t so sure she wants someone else to choose her path—in love and in life.
When her brother decides to strike out for the Genesee Valley in Western New York, Harriet decides to go with him—disguised as a boy. Their journey includes sickness, uninvited guests, and difficult emotional terrain as Harriet comes of age, realizes what she wants, and accepts who she’s loved all along.
I mentioned in my My First Book Mail post about how the author was so kind to send me a copy of this book after reaching out to her. This is my first physical ARC ever and I was beyond excited to get it. Now that I’ve finished it, I can say that I’m glad I read it 🙂 Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts on the book!
- Unique Setting: This book is set both in New Hampshire and the Genesee Valley in Western New York 1807. I had never read anything about pioneers striking out in this valley so that was cool to have a different setting for a YA historical fiction. There’s also fun stuff about how they make the spouts to put in the trees for sugaring and the farming stuff. I liked reading about a farming family and how they enjoyed their hard work; I felt their simple enjoyments while reading it. It was also cool to see people try to populate new land and have a place of their own.
- Love Interest: I quickly grew to like Daniel Long, Harriet’s neighbor and love interest. You do definitely Jane Austen inspiration here for their relationship; she refuses to fall in love with him and wanting to be her own person. Their dynamic was great and I loved seeing the different ways that he showed he cared for her. He’s one of the better love interests I’ve read about recently.
- Quick Read: Whenever I did pick this up, I did great chunks of it at a time which is always a plus for me. I never felt like time was dragging when I read this; it’s immersive in the wonderful descriptions of nature and farming. Ostrom has a great knack for writing nature and the wilderness of this time period. This is one of my favorite parts of the book/reading experience.
- Good Messages: The biggest messages in here I got were: being grateful for family, accepting yourself, letting someone love you for who you are and finding your own way. For the time period, it was interesting seeing how Harriet rebelled at her role in society at first. While she does take longer to learn more about the world, I did feel like she did come full circle with how she felt and finally accepted the truth. But I also just enjoyed seeing a character love the family that raised her, being grateful for what she had etc. If you’re looking for a more positive book with messages like this, you’ll enjoy this.
- Pacing: This was my biggest issue of the book. It’s told in three parts but some of it felt more dragged out while the more interesting bits felt either just thrown in or resolved too quickly. I understood getting a good foundation on Harriet’s feelings for Daniel, but everything else felt a left a bit to be desired. The synopsis promised a bit more drama but it didn’t feel fulfilled to me. Some of it was boring to read at times and I wanted a bit more adventure to happen.
- Ending: The ending felt odd to me because not only was it super rushed, but it almost doesn’t quite read like a standalone. There was a small event that was kept right until the end which didn’t make it feel fleshed out and I didn’t have to time to process the impact it was supposed to have. I don’t know if there will be a sequel but the ending just seemed odd at best without getting into spoilers.
- Main Character: Now I did grow to appreciate Harriet’s growth as a character. But I will say that I think people will get really annoyed with the whole big miscommunication plot-line being essential to the story. Some historical fiction stories do depend on this as well, but I know some YA readers are getting tired of this plot line. I didn’t mind it all the time; some people are very stubborn and it takes them longer to admit their faults/feelings for someone. Her arc does feel true to life, even in people I know personally. But I think this might turn a few readers off. Harriet is also catty at times and doesn’t quite have a reason for being so, but I think that just stems from her rebellion to society from what I interpreted.
Overall: This story is likable and was fun to read, but I am picky with my higher ratings. I was bored sometimes and the story was often too simple, not fulfilling enough and the uneven pacing did affect my rating. It’s a good, clean story. I do recommend this book to Jane Austen fans and fans of regency romance books like this.
**A BIG thank you to Melissa Ostrom and Fiewel & Friends for sending me this ARC in exchange for review!**
Have you heard about this book? Do you want to read it? What historical fictions do you love?