The Simple Wild is a beautifully written, picturesque tale of heartbreak, family and unexpected love.
Just a warning: if you read this book you may (accidentally) start looking online for flights to Alaska and you may also (accidentally) long for a heart-warming romance with a sky cowboy named Jonah.
Calla is the only daughter of Wren, and flies to Bangor, Alaska to visit him and revive their relationship as his days may be numbered. She left Alaska as a toddler with her mother, and is used to the fast-paced life of Toronto. Her dad quickly became a stranger as she grew up.
Jonah is a pilot, and who is very close to Wren and the small community in the remote but friendly territory. He lives a simple life, and has a deep love for his planes and Alaska Wild. He’s a little too honest from time to time, and likes to play tricks, but has a good heart.
The minute I met Jonah I didn’t like him. While he is described as a “teddy bear” by Agnes, I thought he was unnecessarily rude to Calla and went out of his way to be awkward. But my dislike for him faded away very quickly. He is actually a humble, genuine and warm-hearted man, it’s just hidden beneath a yeti-esque beard and an intimidating exterior. He cares deeply for people, and is adored by almost everyone in Bangor and the neighbouring villages. So while he does have a mischievous streak, his is a gentle giant.
Jonah calls Calla “shallow, self-absorbed and entitled” early on, and he was right. Calla is someone who doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate her privilege. So the moment she’s in a new place, with a new culture of people, and a new lifestyle, she’s in complete shock and sees it as something beneath her standard of living. I understood some of her reactions but occasionally did find them annoying. She is 26, but acts immaturely because almost everything in her life has been done for her. From getting a job to the weekly food shop, Calla isn’t used to hard work and doesn’t have a grasp on the reality of independence.
In the beginning, instead of taking in the breath-taking landscapes and marvelling at this untouched area of the world, all she could think of were the negatives. The only thing going through Calla’s mind is Calla. But as she spends more time with Jonah, begins to see more of the beauty that Alaska has to offer and meets more native and local people, her eyes begin to open and hard truths hit home. Sure, her thinking frustrated me in the beginning, but that faded as she developed and matured. Calla became a likeable character as soon as she stopped being closed-minded.
Enemies-to-lovers relationships are always fun to read about, and Jonah and Calla’s banter in The Simple Wild was no different. They absolutely despised one another in the beginning, and their back and forth was gripping. As both Calla and Jonah are quick-witted, there were plenty of laugh out loud moments during their slow-burning romance. The tension between them became obvious as they were forced into more situations together, and began to tolerate and then enjoy each other’s company. They are complete opposites in every way, but fit so perfectly together.
The father-daughter relationship between Calla and Wren is heart-wrenching and highly emotional. Calla understandably feels abandoned by her father; Wren avoids confrontation like the plague, even if it means avoiding his daughter. But they love each other, even if they don’t scream it from the mountaintops. There’s a lot of pain and regret that has built up over the years, but as the walls begin to come down and they start to actually speak to one another, they realise just how special their bond is. From the moment Calla landed in Alaska, I was wishing for her connection with her father to grow before time ran out.
Agnes, Mabel and Simon were radiantly written secondary characters, each with their own distinctive voice and personalities. A backstory on them wasn’t necessary for you to grasp what kind of people they are, and I love how they were involved in grounding Calla. These characters, along with the community-like feel Alaska gave throughout the book, Bangor began to feel like home to Calla and to me as a reader. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of rural parts of Alaska, and how the author made each corner of the small town feel like a scenic landscape. Just reading about places with endless expanses of deep blue and rich green makes me want to grab a camera and head there myself.
I didn’t expect The Simple Wild to be as emotional as it was, but the author packs plenty of heart-wrenching moments into the ending of the book before a beautiful and satisfying ending. This is my first K.A. Tucker book, but definitely not my last.
My rating: ★★★★★
Read the review to the sequel, Wild at Heart HERE!