Some books embed themselves in your heart from the very first page, the unexpected beauty of them taking your breath away time and time again, and The Simple Wild continues to be one of the most understatedly beautiful stories I’ve ever read, affecting in a way that it never stops making me want to read it again. So when a sequel was announced, I was filled with both delight and trepidation, knowing that a sequel rarely measures up to the original. But from the moment we step into Calla Fletcher’s shoes again, we are reminded of what a stellar storyteller K.A. Tucker truly is, capable of delivering not only a worthy continuation of a most beloved story, but somehow also matching oh-so perfectly the freshness of the first book. It’s the age-old tale of a woman leaving her whole life behind to follow her heart, only to learn that a relationship cannot survive on love alone, but what makes this novel sing is the honesty and reality with which the characters are portrayed at every step. Moving and clearly written with love, K.A. Tucker has truly outdone herself with a story that’s all about taking a chance on the right person, while never losing yourself in them.
It’s everything I imagined being in love could feel like, back when I was trying to figure out what love is, when I couldn’t form a definition in my mind for it. It’s this. It’s us.
The story picks up right where the first book left off, with Calla Fletcher leaving everything she knows behind and moving to the wilds of Alaska to start a new life with the rugged bush pilot who stole her heart. With a new sleepy Alaskan town to call home, a house in dire need of a makeover, new quirky neighbours to get to know, and a new charter business to get off the ground, it doesn’t take long for Calla to begin facing new challenges at every turn. And before too long, days begin to feel longer, quieter, lonelier than ever, with nothing but snow, trees, a goat, and a pet racoon to keep her company.
“Following Jonah around Alaska while he flies planes won’t be enough. Not for a girl like you, Calla. Loving him won’t be enough. Not forever.”
“What will be enough, then?”
“Find your place here. Something that’s going to give you—Calla Fletcher—purpose. Something that feels like you. Find that, and then give it your all.”
With treacherous wilderness all around, and her support system thousands of miles away, for Calla this is a journey inside herself as much as it is a new life adventure far away from the only home she’s ever known. Spending her days finding ways to occupy her time until Jonah comes home inevitably begins to leave her unfulfilled and resentful, so in order not to grow bitter with Jonah for what he loves to do, Calla must either embrace her new reality by finding a purpose of her own there, or walk away from it all—just like her mother once did.
“I can’t be the only thing keeping you here.”
The focus of the story never steers away from Calla, tenderly tracing her continued emotional growth, and while her feelings for Jonah never falter, learning to live alongside and share a life with another person is not always easy, especially when two people have two very different futures planned out. But with each hurdle they face and overcome, we are shown how important it is to communicate and find your own voice in a relationship in order to achieve your happy ending. And through it all, the Calla we get to know and love even more this time around remains empathetic, kind, generous, self-aware, and capable of anything she puts her mind to.
“They can have bunk beds.”
“That’d work for two of them. What about the other six?” he says with a solemn tone, his brow furrowed intently on the picture of him and my father on the About page I built for The Yeti website.
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the animal you’re breeding with. Maybe she has a den somewhere that can fit them all in.”
Realistic but utterly romantic in a profounder, subtler kind of way, everything about this story is just as I hoped it would be, and it left me with a grin from ear to ear. Bursting with emotion and depth, and with a colourful cast of secondary characters who leap off the page and into our hearts, K.A. Tucker’s gift for making any world feel entirely real is what continues to draw me to her stories, but this world will forever remain my favourite of hers.
“I need you in my life like I need to fly. Like I need this Alaskan air. More than I need this air.”