Where the Lost Wander

Written by Amy Harmon
Review by Cindy Vallar

A widow at twenty, Naomi May is bound for California with her family and her in-laws. She records the journey on paper, drawing the places and people she meets along the way. One man intrigues her, and she determinedly sets out to know him better as their wagon train heads west. Doing so draws the ire of her father-in-law; he has plans – plans she wants nothing to do with – and pairing up with a “half-breed” isn’t one of them.

John Lowry, sometimes known as Two Feet, is a stranger no matter which world he inhabits – that of his mother, a Pawnee, or that of his father, a white man who raises mules. The pretty woman who draws pictures piques his interest, even though she is nosy, stubborn, and unsettling. He intends to return home after delivering mules to the army, but the more he gets to know Naomi, the more he considers resettling in California and starting his own mule business.

Fate, however, intervenes. A change in plans temporarily separates John from Naomi, and when a wagon breaks down, the Mays are left behind to make repairs. A tragic accident leads to slaughter, and hostile warriors capture Naomi and her baby brother. John vows to find Naomi, no matter how far or how long it takes.

Harmon paints a vivid portrait of settlers crossing the country between 1853 and 1858 to begin a new life. Told from two perspectives – Naomi’s and John’s – Where the Lost Wander is as much a perilous story about heartache, prejudice, hatred, isolation, rape, and cultural differences, as it is an enduring tale of harmony, friendship, love, and hope. The characters are as real as you or I, and once met remain forever imprinted in the reader’s psyche.