Where The Lost Wander
Momma Leighellen's Book Review

“Destroying all the things that you hate won’t change {things}. Hating never fixed anything.” – Where The Lost Wander, Amy Harmon

I finished reading Where the Lost Wander over the Thanksgiving holiday. I can’t think of a more perfect season to read this book, as it chronicles the tense relationship between settlers traveling across the country in search of better living and the American Indians protecting their native lands, as well as the struggles of life on the road. It made me think twice about my blessings and my heritage.

“life is just a continual parting of ways, some more painful than others.”

The story centers around John and Naomi. John is a quiet, hardworking trail guide referred to as Two Feet. He’s half Pawnee Indian and half white, who literally feels torn in half by the two sides of his history and yet somehow fitting into neither. He heads out to lead an expedition along the Oregon Trail in 1853, helping a family to cross the mountains in search of a better life. Naomi is a strong, outspoken young woman, part of the family John is hired to help. She is full of dreams, dedicated to protecting and caring for her family. The tow are slowly drawn to one another and the chapters bounce between their two story lines as we come to learn how they connect.

“That’s what hope feels like: the best air you’ve ever breathed after the worst fall you’ve ever taken. It hurts.”


The book starts off full force as we witness a horrific, tragic event. Then the story back tracks to provide the full context and meaning of the massacre. This type of author’s decision is brilliant, as it leaves the reader on the edge of their seat knowing what is to come, wondering when it will happen and how it resolves.

I literally can’t imagine life on a wagon train but this book makes the experience come alive. The settlers weren’t just traveling, they were giving birth, menstruating, fighting disease, had no privacy, were hungry all the time, and afraid of the future. As typical to her writing style, this book reads like a gorgeous piece of artwork. The pacing is slow and thoughtful, the violence dark and painful, the love tender and hopeful. Amy Harmon always has a way of evoking ALL THE FEELINGS. (see my review of What The Wind Knows here.)

“The pain. It’s worth it. The more you love, the more it hurts. It’s the only thing that is.”

This book has plenty of trigger warnings but don’t shy away from the truths here. The dark parts of our history are what helps us learn for the future. It is also full of friendship and love and hope. There is so much wisdom in the book about love, family, and acceptance. I suggest reading the Author’s Notes first, or even heading to her website my link text

CW: rape, murder, assault, child death

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