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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
The Wilderness Between Us, by award-winning author Penny Haw, is a strong, moving work of women's fiction that you can't forget. Set in the mountains of South Africa, a group of couples, family, and friends go on a hike and get stranded, but this is where a transformative trip begins. The wilderness is physical yet figurative because a lot of disclosure and self-discovery happens along the way. Haw reaches into the soul and psyche of her characters and draws out a masterpiece that will live long in the reader's mind. Her writing is magnetic and powerful and plays with our emotions as if we are one of the characters. Her talent and skill bring you deep inside the story where you will find drama, suspense, and the unexpected. The glossary at the beginning is helpful as well.
Haw uses a diagnosis of anorexia as one of the anchors of this story. The relationships she writes about are realistic, conveying the subtleties and complexities found inside and between them. As a former social worker, I like how she did a deep dive into the nature of anorexia and how it works in a person's life and relationships. Besides being a wonderful novel of fiction, it can also be a path to possible healing. However, the author cautions that it isn't a self-help guide. I also like how she uses the concept of "wilderness" to mean different things. One would think that a wilderness is a place to lose your way and become confused. But it can also be used to lose and then find yourself again, reset your life, thought processes, priorities, relationships, and future. Some of the best books in literature are about tragic things, and this is one of them. But it also shines with hope and healing. Haw expertly takes the reader from past to present to tell this riveting tale. The dialogue crackles, the conflicts are edgy, the descriptions are richly detailed, and the friendship between the two women is one of the strongest elements in the story. The Wilderness Between Us by Penny Haw is a book that has everything a fan of women's fiction would want.