Hey hey, two days in a row reviewing for blog tours! Welcome to the blog tour for All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry! I am so excited to be a part of this tour, because this book is wonderfully atmospheric. It’s everything. I love it so much. And I not only get to review, but I get to share some of my favorite quotes from the book too! (If you can’t tell, I genuinely love doing this. <3) Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of the post!
In a dystopian future United States, Sarah Jac and James hop trains and work the maguey fields in the southwestern states, which are all desert now. They may not have much, but they have each other, and they have their plans for the future. On the ranches, they have to pretend to be cousins in order to not be used as leverage against each other by the other workers, who barter, steal, and injure as it pleases them, or as they need the money. So they keep their love a secret. James, the charmer, always has another girl on his arm to help their cover, and Sarah Jac learns to deal with that. She hates it, but as she always says, “hard hearts, James.”
Everything changes when an unfortunate accident forces them to The Real Marvelous, a supposedly cursed ranch in Valentine, Texas. They go through the same routine, but things are different here. Their livelihood, their lives, and their love is at risk – and they have to figure out what they’ll do to save themselves.
I’m not going to lie – this book did something to me. Now, when I look at the cover, I get sort of lost in space, thinking about this world. THIS WORLD, MAN. This is true magical realism, like nothing I’ve ever read before. I’m wrecked.
3 Things I Loved
- Sarah Jac’s narration. This story is told through the eyes of Sarah Jac, and I loved it because she’s a true unreliable narrator. But what I loved more than anything was the relationship between her and James as it is described in her own words. Their love is fierce and forged in tragedy and longing, and you can feel it. Mabry wrote Sarah Jac so realistically that I felt every one of her feelings. I longed with her. I cried when she refused to do so. I was in her head, and that’s probably why I’m so uncomfortable now that the book is over. I’m not being told what to feel anymore.
- James. What is it with all the swoony, wonderful book boyfriends I’ve been reading lately? James is flawed, but his intentions were always true, and he wanted to give everything up for Sarah Jac from the very beginning. Some stuff happens in the middle that makes me ache when I think about it, but he always meant well. I believe that.
- The setting. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a setting like this. It’s Old West, but it’s also clearly a dystopian future. I was in it. I could feel the dirt on my skin, the grit in my teeth, the sun beating down. I’ve never described a book as atmospheric before, but this one was.
I was up half the night reading and highlighting in my copy of the ARC, so sorry if there are a lot of these. But oh my, the writing is beautiful. I couldn’t tell the hours were flying by and read this in one sitting.
- “I work to keep this memory, too: the way he says my full name when we’re alone together, how it’s gruff with wanting, how he takes his time to unwrap it like a present, unroll it like a banner, or open it up like the pages of a Bible.”
- “Your gut and your heart are not the same thing, my grandmother said, squeezing the blood and pus from the wound. Know the difference. Know which to follow and when.”
- “Expectations are firm. You expect the stars to appear at night because they’ve always appeared at night. If they didn’t, you’d think the world was ending. Plans are more like half dreams. They can change; the best ones are nebulous and flexible. If a plan is derailed, your heart may crack, but it won’t fully break because you can always modify the plan and create a different route to the end.”
- “I wonder if he’s waiting for me to say something profound because that’s what sometimes happens in books and old movies when a person cares for another person. It’s the point in the story where a heart cracks open and softness is revealed.”
- “Ruin me, then, Sarah. Pull me apart.” *OH MY GOD, SWOON FOREVER.*
- “There is so much wind in the world. I learned that on the trains. The wind made me happy again. That and space and James’ good nature.”
- “I’m not saint. I shouldn’t be trying to act like one.”
There are so many more, but I was able to narrow down to these. Ugh, I loved this book so much.
I did not notice any problematic content while I was reading, but I did notice a misread that many people seem to be having when I was reading the reviews (which I do sometimes after I finish a book that just wrecks me, like this one did). So that’s what I’m going to address here.
Okay, y’all. Sarah Jac and James ARE NOT COUSINS. I saw this in a couple reviews and just kept thinking – did you actually read the whole book? Telling everyone on the ranches that they are cousins is part of their cover, so no one uses one of them against the other. Sarah Jac tells the story of how she and James first met in Chicago at one point in the book, and it’s cute and I think I cried (figures) and they are definitely not related.
So there’s that!
Content warnings-wise, there isn’t much. There’s some violence on the part of the ranch hands, there are some executions that don’t happen on the page, and there is talk of gambling and thievery and general misdeeds. Nothing super triggering; not like other books I’ve read lately.
But you know what there’s not? Cousin lovin’. No cousin lovin’, because they’re not cousins.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
Good gravy, how do I rate this book? It’s lovely and I completely fell into it. I was crushed by so many things, turned to the dust on Sarah Jac’s and James’ boots and stomped on. I loved it, and I can’t wait to read more from Samantha Mabry. So. I can’t give All the Wind in the World lower than a BLUE rating. I am so wrecked. I’m probably going to have to take a day off from reading or something. Wowza.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC to review, to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for choosing me to be part of the book tour, and to NetGalley, for the additional approval. This review was honest, and the kindness and generosity of these people did not affect my opinion in any way.
Author Samantha Mabry credits her tendency toward magical thinking to her Grandmother Garcia, who would wash money in the kitchen sink to rinse off any bad spirits. She teaches writing and Latino literature at a community college in Dallas, Texas. Her first novel, A Fierce and Subtle Poison, has been described as “gorgeously imagined” (B&N Teen), “stunning” (Paste Magazine), and “impressive” (NPR.org). Mabry says, “I’ve always been captivated by the West—both the landscape itself and the way that landscape has been layered with meaning. With All the Wind in the World, I wanted to preserve the brutal, violent, yet romantic nature of the traditional epic Western, while also focusing on the histories, hopes, and struggles of characters who are marginalized or disenfranchised.”
Hey hey! It’s a Rafflecopter giveaway!