Title: The Reckless Kind
Author: Carly Heath
Buy Link: Bookshop
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.
In 1904 Norway, three disabled teens run away together and enter a horse race after a dire incident. Asta doesn’t want the life that’s been set out for her: marriage and domesticity. She prefers performing at a local theater with her best friend Gunnar and his secret love Erlend. After Gunnar is gravely injured, the three carve out a new life for themselves while bucking society’s rules. But can they find happiness in the face of discrimination and hatred from the surrounding community?
The Reckless Kind is not a bad book. I just didn’t enjoy it, and throughout, especially around 200 pages where I thought something would finally happen, I was left bored and uninterested. After more than half of the book, there was still no plot. The annual winter race isn’t even mentioned by 45% or so, there’s no storyline at all, it’s just people going to work and people visiting. Erland Aand Gunnar’s relationship made me a bit uncomfortable and if you’ve read the book, you know why.
A particular scene I didn’t enjoy was Erlend telling Asta that since he’s Gunnar’s boyfriend, he should be the one whose opinions matter more! Why is that? Friendships and relationships should be valued equally, especially in YA fiction. I was thrilled to learn that this book had a disability and diverse rep but there were no people of color in this book and while I did appreciate the disability representation, especially when it came to Erlend who has anxiety and stomach problems, the character development was poorly executed which led to it all being for naught.
Overall, it wasn’t my favorite but I see why people like it. In the end, it did have a good plotline and the characters were OK. Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for having me and to the publisher for sending an ARC my way. While I didn’t enjoy this book myself, I’m sure there are many out there who will love this book and I recommend it to you.
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 of her money tending to a menagerie of rescued farm animals. The Reckless Kind is her first novel.