All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry
Summary from Goodreads:
Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.
When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.
Samantha Mabry creates stories that are both ethereal and spellbinding. I came close to finishing this book in one sitting, it was that hard to put down. And just look at that cover! It is as beautiful as the inside. Like her previous book it is hard to define the genre that this book belongs to. It takes place in the not too distant future when climate change has pretty much turned the US into a desert. The only thing that grows anymore is the maguey plant, which is what they use to make tequila. The migrant workers who work the fields are payed very little and endure very harsh conditions. This is the world that Sarah Jac and James find themselves in.
Sarah Jac is the sole narrator, but this is one of those times when I really wanted to have a dual narration. I really wanted to know what James was thinking and his motivation for some of the things he did. I liked Sarah Jac, she was certainly a product of her environment, very tough, self-reliant and resilient. James was a little harder to like, mostly because of what he does and how he handles a certain situation. I think if he had just talked to Sarah and explained what he was up to, most of their issues could have been avoided. I really think he was trying to do what was best for them, but he really messed it up.
The people they meet and interact with in the fields and the camp are very diverse and an interesting group of characters. It is amazing what people do to survive and how much they will endure. Some of the characters are what contributes to the magical realism of the book. Is Real Marvelous cursed? I’m still not sure if there was something else going on, or if it was just the environment changing that contributes to it’s reputation. In any case, the owners of the Ranch are an interesting family with issues of their own.
I do want to state that even though their ‘love’ is kept secret, there is very little romance in this story. Sarah Jac and James already have a relationship when the story starts, but they choose to keep it a secret to protect themselves from those who might take advantage of their feelings for each other. I was somewhat puzzled by the why, but when their reasons are revealed it does make sense. I just want people to know that even though it sounds like a romance novel, it really isn’t and I don’t want you to not read this beautiful book because of that.
Samantha Mabry’s writing is beautiful, and she really makes you feel like you are in the story. I was reading this during a snow storm, and I still felt hot and parched like the characters. It is a slightly quirky but amazing story that should not be missed.