Happy Friday, everyone, and if you’re an American (or celebrate some of the pride around the globe), then Happy Fourth of July weekend as well! I’m so happy to be bringing you another review before the week is out! Like I said before, I’ve been falling behind on my reading, and therefore, falling behind on my ARCs. Publishers and authors are going to stop sending them to me if I keep being so lazy. I just realized at this moment that my latest review will consist of a slice of American History, so will therefore be fitting for this weekend’s festivities! It’s called, Leaving Independence by Leanne W. Smith. Hitch up your ponies, and let’s talk about this book!
I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley, but unfortunately, I got to it too late to review ahead of the release date. Good news for all of you though, it came out on June 21st for purchase, so you can go pick up a copy now! Simply put, I adored every page and every minute of this journey. As a history nerd, I was intrigued the instant I saw the cover. However, in all my years in school, I don’t remember a time I ever studied the Oregon Trail. Once I began this book, I just couldn’t put it down. That’s a bit surprising to say because when it comes to history written out on pages, although I find the subject matter interesting, I don’t always find the story to hold my attention. Throwing in some fictional characters to give it a personal touch, gave it another level of interest and excitement.
Abigail Baldwyn and her four children have just received word that her husband, Robert is alive. Normally, this is exciting news, but for their family, it’s an absolute shock since they think Robert has been dead for the past five years. Abigail has a lot weighing on her heart and her mind. In a bad way with her father, and on the verge of losing the home Robert had built for the family, she decides to uproot the children and head west to Fort Hall and reunite as a family.
This has every element of a classic western which I loved. The wide open prairies, covered wagons, Indians, Cowboys, and the rebuild post-civil war all add their own flavors to the journey from Tennessee to Oregon.
I was fascinated (albeit a bit terrified) of the wildness of unsettled lands, and the interaction of strangers caravanning across the country together. Being in close quarters for a long period of time does not sound pleasant, so I enjoyed seeing how the everyday life was carried out.
What (or should I say who) I loved the most was Hoke Mathews. A former US Marshal, he’s the one who winds up looking after Abigail and her brood. I not only appreciated his kind heart under the cowboy exterior, but the banter the two of them had all throughout the story.
Of course their feelings get complicated when they arrive at their final destination and it’s time for Abby to see Mr. Baldwyn for the first time in years. Things aren’t always what they seem, and yet another layer is thrown into a tale that I didn’t think could get anymore complex.
I not only learned more history of my own country, but I also got to share the joy and heartache of these settlers. I’m glad I got to go on the journey with them!