The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath

Book Review

Title: The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance

Publishing Date: November 2, 2021


A genre-defying debut, this queer historical YA centers a wild and reckless trio who fly in the face of small town tradition—full of compassion, love, and determination to live the lives of their choosing.

It’s Norway 1904, and Asta Hedstrom doesn’t want to marry her odious betrothed, Nils—even though a domestic future is all her mother believes she’s suited for, on account of her single-sided deafness, unconventional appearance, and even stranger notions. Asta would rather spend her life performing in the village theater with her friends and fellow outcasts: her best friend Gunnar Fuglestad and his secret boyfriend, wealthy Erlend Fournier.

But the situation takes a dire turn when Nils lashes out in jealousy—gravely injuring Gunnar. Shunning marriage for good, Asta moves with Gunnar and Erlend to their secluded cabin above town. With few ties left with their families, they have one shot at gaining enough kroner to secure their way of life: win the village’s annual horse race.

Rating: 3.25 Stars

So before I get into my review I have to say that The Reckless Kind was very polarizing for me, personally there were aspects that I absolutely adored about the book and some I hated with a passion but overall I did still like the book despite the issues I had with it. The basic premise of The Reckless Kind is we are following three outcasts in 1904, one ace and two are gay (some great representation throughout the novel in regards to sexuality). As we follow Asta, Erlend and Gunnar through their journeys of the self we get to know them on a very deeply personal level and witness their wants and desires for life and how they make steps to achieve this when the entire society is set against them which was a concept that has been done many times but it had an added element to it. For some of the characters it is something simple like not wanting to eat meat because of their love for animals or not wanting to get married and have children which in 1904 was a radical concept which is commonplace in our modern era.

I absolutely adored the many different kinds of representation in this novel from queer rep to disability rep however I did find it odd that there wasn’t a single person of colour within the novel when Heath managed to touch on so many other levels of diversity. One thing Heath does really well is the found family as that is what Asta, Erlend and Gunnar are to each other and it really explores the different types of love between them and how they each forge their own individual identities. For Asta it is dying her hair and developing an almost dual personality and Erlend love for Gunnar was so heart-warming to read about that it brought me to tears more than once during my reading. Heath also manages to bring in elements of Norwegian culture like rosemaling or Norwegian flower art that I would have loved to have seen more of as I was so intrigued by these cultural elements. That being said there were a few issues I had with the book.

The first issue I had was in the way the book was written with the dual perspective. It took me a long time to get into it and more than once I had to re-read several sections of the novel as I got entirely lost as to who we were following as the narrations are very similar and weren’t very distinct for me as a reader. Heath’s writing style is also very flowery and poetic bringing back memories of reading Austin or Bronte that I’d could have done without as I don’t read classics for that exact reason although it might suit the tastes of others it just really wasn’t for me. The other issue I had was there were some major red flags in characters I otherwise really liked and it bothered me a lot and I doubted my rating of this book because of it. The first red flag for me was after kissing once, Erland strongly pursues Gunnar even though he is clearly uncomfortable with the situation and for someone as self-aware as Erland this felt forced and a little uncomfortable to read. The second was to do with the power dynamics between the characters, as Gunnar is rich and often pays for a lot of things he gets away with a lot because the other characters refuse to call him out on it as he is the one funding them which wasn’t something that sat well with me at all and it would give the wrong message out to younger readers.

Overall, for me while I loved the setting and the characters, The Reckless Kind was very low in terms of plot which can be the case with character driven novels but they need to have outstanding characters to carry the book which The Reckless Kind didn’t for me. The pacing also seemed extremely slow at time and it focused on elements of the relationships that weren’t good for me. Despite this I did struggle with my rating as part of me wanted to rate it so much higher purely because of the lyrical description of the world which sprang to life within my mind but I had to put that aside and focus on the core of the book. Overall, The Reckless Kind was by no means a bad book it just wasn’t really to my personal tastes.

About the Author:

Carly Heath (she/they) earned her BA from San Francisco State University and her MFA from Chapman University. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Carly teaches design, art, theater, and writing for various colleges and universities. She spends all her time and most her money tending to a menagerie of rescued farm animals. The Reckless Kind is her first novel.

Author Links: Website Twitter Instagram Goodreads

Buy it here: Goodreads Amazon Barnes and Noble Book Depository Indigo IndieBound

I received this review copy for consideration from TBR and Beyond Tours.

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