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.
The Simple Wild is billed as a romance novel, but I felt like the romance in this novel played second fiddle to the more powerful story of Calla finding herself and figuring out what was truly important to her in life. I’d definitely qualify this book as women’s fiction, rather than romance.
Calla was an insipid child when this book first started; I found her superficial, immature, and irresponsible. Despite living with her mother and step-father, having a good job for four years, and basically having no bills, she was still reliant on her step-father to buy her a plane ticket. She was more obsessed with her shoes and getting an insta-worthy photo than she was other human beings. In short, she was self-absorbed and materialistic. Throughout the novel Calla grew, so much, she learned more about herself, the world, and all different types of love than she could have anticipated when she decided to visit her father. Her growth arc in this book was everything. Calla, much like her Instagram posts, evolved from a thing of shallow frivolity to a person more concerned with substance, interpersonal connections, and true happiness.
As much as I didn’t feel like the romantic element of was the focal point of The Simple Wild, it did play a vital role in helping Calla grow. Jonah was instrumental in making her see the world as more than just the sum of its parts; he forced her to see the humanity behind the masses. He pushed her so far out of her comfort-zone she had no choice but to recalibrate her life and find a new outlook. And while he was doing all that, he was also helping her come to terms with the pending loss of the father she was barely getting to know. Her journey to Alaska was her catalyst to change, but Jonah was one of the major reactants that stimulated her rebirth.
I quite enjoyed the plot of The Simple Wild. It was intriguing and unlike anything I’ve read in recent memory; it was also wholly dependent on the location of the novel. Though I’ve never visited Alaska – it’s a bucket list item for me – I felt like I was there with Calla, Jonah, and the crew. I especially appreciated the juxtaposition of the well-dressed, appearance-obsessed, city girl against the simplicity and grittiness of the Alaskan tundra. In truth, Alaska was just as much a character in this book as the people were and it contributed in so many ways to move this book forward. The Simple Wild gave me a glimpse of a different, slower, simpler way of life and it felt almost like a balm to my soul to know there is still a world independent of the hustle and bustle of the instant gratification of the digital lives to which we are all so accustomed.
I’ve read a handful of KA Tucker books and always find them fascinating in ways I haven’t anticipated. I’m not sure how she’s so capable of taking a concept and turning it on its head, but she consistently makes me think I’m going into a particular type of story then, when I come out the other side, I find I have experienced something unexpected and entirely new. Her prose has a phenomenal way of drawing you in and holding you captive to her words with single-minded obsession; it’s as if nothing exists but the world she’s created. I’m in awe of Ms. Tucker’s story-telling skills and love that she continually writes fresh, captivating books that deliver more to her readers than just a simple story.
K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.
She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and her upcoming contemporary fiction, The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly.
K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband and two beautiful girls.