I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker
Published by Atria on August 7, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Calla Fletcher wasn't even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.
She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.
Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.
Okay, so I’ve been fighting with myself about this for a while, but… this may be my favorite K.A. Tucker book to date. And if you’re a fan of hers and you’ve read a few, you know that’s really saying something. I do have to say, though, that I’m a little sad that there really isn’t a set-up for more books in a series, because I would gladly keep going! *hint hint*
Don’t get me wrong when I say this, but I found this an incredibly difficult to read, for two reasons. At first, it was because it took a little while getting into it. I really couldn’t connect with Calla. In fact, I would almost go so far as to say I couldn’t stand Calla. She wasn’t at all the kind of person that I would hang out with, and she’s certainly about as far from myself as could be. I would actually fit right into life in Alaska, without even blinking! Calla comes across as shallow, as being more immature than her age. She’s living at home with her mother and step-father, with zero responsibility. She’s wasting time in a stagnant, lukewarm relationship. She’s obviously intelligent, but she’s bending over backward trying to make it in a job that doesn’t challenge her.
I think that’s a large point in this story; a lot of the characters have flaws, they make mistakes. Like we all do! It certainly gives Calla a lot of room to grow. And besides learning to recognize our flaws, to find who we were meant to be, the story is also about not living with regret. Calla, along with other characters, learns how to grow and change. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” “Forgive and forget.” The age-old adages have withstood the test of time for a reason. They truly are words to live by.
There was another reason that this book was hard to read. Regardless of the years that have passed since losing my grandmother to lung cancer, this book reopened the wound like it was yesterday. Watching these fictional characters go through the very real experience was too close to reality. I passed through the same stages of grief that I did over 20 years ago. I can very well imagine that this pain may still be too fresh for some readers, or maybe it will be cathartic in the end.