The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom
Release date: March 27, 2018
An ARC was provided by Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Pride and Prejudice meets Cold Mountain in this debut YA American epic/adventure.
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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Listen, I am always here for YA historical fiction. There needs to be more of it, in my opinion. So The Beloved Wild was definitely right up my alley.
In a lot of ways, it didn't fit into what I normally expect from YA historical fic. In other ways it did, especially when Harriet disguised herself as a boy.
Harriet didn't feel that unique to me. She was just...there. I was more interested in Gideon and Rachel as characters. In fact, I really wanted more from Harriet and Rachel's developing friendship. I appreciated how Harriet protected Rachel at the end, but it didn't feel like quite enough. Also, I didn't feel the chemistry between Harriet and Daniel Long. I know I was supposed to, but I felt more like I was being told they had chemistry and I should think they were a good match. I did feel the chemistry between Rachel and Phineas, and I was pleasantly surprised by the direction Gideon's story took.
I did enjoy all the parts about life in rural New York. It was nice to see a pioneering historical fiction book set some place besides the West or the Plains states. It did take a little while for Gideon and Harriet to actually set off for Genesee Valley, which wasn't necessarily a problem...I just wish the book's synopsis hadn't made it sound like that was the main part of the book.
Finally, this is a bit nitpicky, but ages were vague, and if they were stated, they didn't quite fit the characters. Most of them seemed much older than their stated ages.
I don't remember any foul language or extreme violence. There's some sexual innuendos, and a character is abused off-page.
The Verdict: Pretty good. Worth the read, especially if you like historical fiction.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Possibly.