Last year, I had the chance to read Samantha Mabry’s magical debut, A Fierce and Subtle Poison. That book combined magical realism with relatable characters and an easy to get into plot, making it a real gem in the young adult book world. When I heard that another book was coming out by this talented author, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to dive into another magical and beautiful world, especially when I read that her new book, All the Wind in the World, was going to have a bit of Western feel.
Aside from getting another colorful, stunning cover that I could look at for ages (and maybe I did), even the title is kind of beautiful – and the colors and the birds – don’t even get me started. I fell in love with this book before I even began reading it.
The writing in All the Wind in the World is just as gorgeous and lyrical as the writing in the author’s debut novel, so if you’re worried about it not being that easy to fall into and love, don’t be. It has all the beauty of A Fierce and Subtle Poison, but with a fresh story with a Western touch (did I ever mention how much I love Western YA novels?)
All the Wind in the World features two main characters – Sarah Jac and James. The two of them have been working fields for years now, trying to save up some money. They run from the last farm they were at, only to come to another one, and while there, Sarah Jac makes a mistake that could cause them to be killed, so they jump on a train and run – to another farm.
Sarah Jac and James are in love with each other, but they dare not let anyone know. Not after what they’ve seen happen to other couples who work the fields. So they tell everyone they are cousins, and do what they can to keep their love a secret while working to earn money to get away from all that, someone beautiful and happy, somewhere that will allow them to live together, wrapped in their love for one another, without ever having to stand out in a hot sun and work in a field ever again.
As they go about their days, trying to make things livable for themselves for the time, new obstacles arise – Sarah Jac is told that instead of doing the harvesting, she will be giving riding lessons to the daughter of the owner of the farm. Her older sister can’t give her riding lessons because she is very sick, so it’s up to Sarah Jac. At first, she doesn’t want to, but when she realizes that if she takes the job, it will mean less farming time and maybe even spending more time with James (who is looking into trying to get a job inside the house as well), she decides it might not be so bad.
However, when James starts spending more time with the sickly daughter of the owner, Sarah Jac is left to fend for herself…and it makes her wish they had decided not to keep their love a secret.
The plot of this book works out perfectly with the western setting – it’s sort of like a dystopian setting where the world is growing hotter and hotter, and water is scarce, so they harvest crops that they can use to make alcohol, which is the preferred drink. The idea of this actually happening is incredibly scary.
When I first started reading this, I found it kind of hard to connect to Sarah Jac, but as the book went on I found myself loving her character. At first, it seems as though she is completely dependent on James, but towards the end of the book her character takes a serious turn, and I loved it. I can’t say that I really ever cared as much for James’s character as I would have liked to, but they were still written quite well and made the book come to life.
Speaking of coming to life, that setting…Samantha Mabry has a beautiful talent for world building, and she doesn’t leave anything out in All the Wind in the World. There was the perfect amount of detail that made the book stand out. Let’s just say that when I put this one down, it took me a few minutes to remember that I was just reading a book, and I wasn’t actually there.
If you’ve read A Fierce and Subtle Poison and enjoyed it, trust me when I say that you aren’t going to be disappointed by this book at all. It has all the charm and mystery that made readers fall in love with that book, and then some. It’s definitely worth checking out!
She spends as much time as possible in the west texas desert.
A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON (Algonquin Young Readers, spring 2016) is her first novel.
Win 1 of 2 copies of All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry.
Starts: October 2nd, 2017
Ends: October 15h, 2017