“Up here it’s about having enough food to eat, and enough heat to stay alive through the winter. It’s about survival, and enjoying the company of the people that surround us. It’s not about whose house is the biggest, or who has the nicest clothes, or the most money. We support each other because we’re all in this together. And people either like that way of life or they don’t…”
Synopsis: 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.
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 2018
When everyone kept going on about how great this book was, I HAD to pick it up … and it’s also a gorgeous cover to add to my bookshelves. Never in a MILLION years did I think this was going to be an absolutely beautiful story, beyond the scope of romance — it’s SO much more! The Simple Wild had me laughing so hard one minute, to absolute tears the next … it took me a week to finish this review, simply because I couldn’t put precisely into words how much I love this novel. I still feel like I could’ve written more … but I’m ACTUALLY trying to shorten my reviews.
Tucker’s novel’s an extraordinary and unique book, EXACTLY the kind of book I’ve been searching for in the New Adult age group.
↠ I adored the “small-town” setting, seeing communities work together and that familial bond they have. During Calla’s time in Alaska, we see how interconnected all the communities in Alaska are. Her father’s aviation business delivers medical and food supplies, does emergency pickups for those in need and helps families return home all throughout the communities in Alaska. But what we’re also shown is the gratitude these people have for the pilots and vice versa, how much they all care for one another as though they’re their own. Surviving in Alaska isn’t always easy, so the people have to depend on and work with one another … creating this giant family and beautiful connection. It’s something you wish to see all over the world … maybe one day.
↠ Calla’s journey and growth in the novel’s absolutely incredible! In the beginning, she’s a bratty “city-woman” with a bad attitude towards this “adventure” to visit her estranged father. Honestly, you REALLY aren’t meant to FULLY like her (or Jonah) at the start. But as her character unfolds, you see how driven and creative she truly is. And the more she sees how wonderful the people in this little Alaskan community are, the more she opens up to show who she really is to the people in the community and her father — a kind and caring woman who’s utterly ambitious and ready to take on the world.
↠ The depth of this novel’s incredible, diving deep into heavier topics while demonstrating how to overcome such obstacles. This isn’t simply a romance novel — seeking forgiveness, learning to live in the present rather than playing the what-if game, giving people second chances, adventuring out of one’s comfort zone, finding peace with one’s choices — there are so many layers to this novel; it’s honestly why I fell in love with it. Though I literally cried on and off for the last 30 percent of the novel, it shows how much power and emotion Tucker’s story conveys. It almost felt therapeutic, as though I’d been waiting to have someone tell me the things that Tucker does in this novel regarding loss and regret.
↠ Though the romance is rather fast-paced — it actually felt right. I’m not an insta-love fan … but somehow, Tucker made me fall head over heels for Jonah and Calla’s intense and passionate romance build up. They’re complete and utter opposites — Jonah’s a blunt and mischievous pilot with quite an attitude, while Calla’s a “stereotyped” urban woman who has NO clue how to deal with the wilderness. Obviously, these two do NOT start on the right foot with one another (which is all part of the fun). But as they both grow individually, they begin to grow closer to one another. I honestly love how they prank and banter with one another, but I really enjoyed the moments near the end — how they help one another during the hard times, caring for one another through laughter and tears. It’s as though they’re meant to be, they’re chemistry just mixing perfectly with one another … Tucker, you have me hooked!
↠ The ONLY woe I had was Jonah’s constant patronizing tone towards outer beauty standards … it drove me nutty. This is something that society HAS to stop doing — there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to dress oneself up or wear makeup — it’s just as bad as judging someone for NOT dressing up. At first, it was kind of a funny lesson for Calla to see there are bigger concerns that cosmetics and clothing brands. But after a while, I just got flustered. There’s nothing wrong with her wanting to dress up and look nice … or dress down and have a relaxed look. Luckily, he DOES redeem himself by admitting that he made a bad judgment based on his own biases … so I’ll give him that.
The Simple Wild is a beautiful story, making it feel absolutely impossible to put into words how inspiring it is. You journey along with the characters, learning to grow as an individual and see the people in it for who they are … not what you expect or want them to be. In a way, this book also helped me with my own grief and losses and anxieties. Tucker shows THROUGH her characters that you’re allowed to feel sad and angry at the world when everything seems to be falling apart … you’re allowed to be frustrated with past events … but don’t forget to live. You can’t change the past, and you can’t change what you’ve lost … but you can gain so much more if you live in the present. How beautiful is that message?
I recommend this novel if you enjoy:
↠ A focus on family and friendship
↠ Survival and the bonds of a community
↠ Hate to love romance trope
↠ Realistic fiction
↠ Rural settings
Have you read Tucker’s The Simple Wild?