Hi guys! I hope you are having an awesome week! I know I am, especially since it’s Spring Break and Holy Week this week. Today I am at Ole Miss for a college visit (Hotty Toddy!), so I’m really looking forward to touring and visiting the campus. I usually do not post on Wednesdays, but since I have so many books to review that are releasing in the upcoming months, I’m going to post the occasional Wednesday post to get all my reviews in on time. Yesterday, The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom just released, which is an amazing YA historical fiction debut that blew me away. Melissa is one of the most supportive and kind authors I’ve met online, so I’m super excited to be sharing my review of her debut to y’all today. Hope you enjoy!
About the Book
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.
Disclaimer: Thanks so much to Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group and my publicity contact there for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.
Before I begin this review, I have two things to point out. The first one is that Ruta Sepetys (yes, THE Ruta Sepetys, my favorite author in the entire world) blurbed this book, which is awesome and well-deserved. The second one is that Melissa is one of the kindest and most supportive authors I have ever met online, and she has said and done so many things for me that has warmed my heart greatly. But it was actually through Twitter where I began to rave about The Beloved Wild when we first began to communicate.
Now onto why I love The Beloved Wild so much!
The Beloved Wild is a stark yet gripping account of the prejudices women had to endure in the 19th century, a time before the Industrial Revolution prompted new reforms and changes. It is YA historical fiction and literature at its finest. A great novel is one that enlightens you and influences your viewpoint, and I am proud to consider Ostrom’s debut novel as one. The Beloved Wild teaches readers how to embrace who they are and find their inner strength when encountering the toughest of obstacles. It has the perfect combination of adventure, romance, family, and friendships that will appeal to many readers and give each of them a memorable experience.
I knew I was in for a great story from the first page, and this book exceeded my initial expectations. I just could not put this book down at this time. It was as if I became a part of the action and was in the Genessee Valley with Harriet and Gideon and everybody else. I became so enraptured in the plot that I became very emotionally invested in the novel. The Beloved Wild placed me on an actual roller coaster ride filled with different emotions. One chapter I would become enraged by the bigotry and the next I would laughing out loud at Harriet concealing her identity as “Freddy.” I could feel my heart being wrenched by the romance, and watching Harriet’s and Daniel’s slow burn made me want to go “Awww….” so many times. They are now one of my favorite ships. There was never a dull moment, very unlike Daniel’s initials (read the book and you’ll get the joke).
I fell in love with the whole setting of the novel. It was as if I was transported back in time to the era of Manifest Destiny, where the unknown allured the young and the old, the rich and the poor to leave their familiar surroundings for a life full of adventure and potential success. I could feel myself riding along with Harriet, Gideon, and Phineas through the rough woods of the Genesee Valley, which I picture to wild yet beautiful in my mind. Because of the prose and unique narration, I became swept away by the vivid imagery and the fascinating world-building, and the novel tempts you to stay in the wilderness and settle in. It’s a great break from the technology-filled, stressful society of today (a reason why I love historical fiction).
Harriet is a very strong and caring protagonist, one that readers will fall in love with the moment they meet her. She disguises herself as a boy named “Freddy” to be able to travel with Gideon through the heartlands of upstate New York, only to find so much prejudice against women. Through Harriet’s unique and witty narration will you become more sympathetic to characters such as her and Rachel, who deals with many problems in their personal and their family lives. From a guy’s point of view, Harriet sees how much hatred and condescendence men at the time had towards even their own wives and daughters, yet she faces this sexism head on, regardless of whether she’s pretending to be a man or actually being a woman at the time. Harriet’s perseverance and fighting spirit inspires readers to never give up regardless of the trials ahead and to always be there for one another.
The Beloved Wild is a novel of not only overcoming prejudices and obstacles but also finding both adventure and oneself. As Harriet grows up and accepts the love of her life, readers will also discover the inner strength that they always have had. I am very glad I had the opportunity to read The Beloved Wild, and I am so excited to see what the author has in store for the future. This novel is a perfect example of the power and greatness of historical fiction, and it’s one that will stick with readers for a long time.
About the Author
Melissa Ostrom teaches English at Genesee Community College and lives with her husband and children in Holley, New York. Her fiction has appeared in The Florida Review, Quarter After Eight, The Baltimore Review, and Passages North, among other journals. The Beloved Wild (Feiwel & Friends, March 2018) is her YA debut. Macmillan will publish her second novel, The Unleaving, in March of 2019.
Are you excited about The Beloved Wild? Do you like YA historical fiction?
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!