The first line in the synopsis is "Love can be tragic," and Amy Maurer Jones writes a beautiful story about love and reincarnation. This is the first book in the Wildflower series. The book is set in both the past and present and is mostly told through Laney Stillwater's perspective. Laney is your typical high school student with very few friends. She is an outcast because of her ethnic background (Native American) and most of her classmates don't understand her family's beliefs. I can easily relate to Laney (I've been in her situation many times) and no doubt several of you will too. Laney shares a connection with a previous life. In 17th century Plymouth, she's actually Wildflower, a Native American teenager from the Wampanoag tribe (as well as in the present). As a young woman she meets an Englishman, Joshua Bangs, a member of Plymouth Colony on the day his father helps organize a trade with the Wampanoags. Both Joshua and Wildflower are smitten with each other, but because of their backgrounds, they can't be together. Add Paco, a Wampanoag warrior, who has been promised to Wildflower you wind up with a love triangle.
In the present, Laney is a bit unsure of Jordan's (a popular, good looking student) intentions. She immediately begins to question why he would ask her out and wonders if people were taking bets and if money was exchanged for his cooperation. I too wondered with Laney because I got a shady feeling from him and it's not until Jones explains his role in Laney's life do I fully come to understand Jordan. Of course since Laney is an outcast, once it is known that she believes in reincarnation (an episode involving her having to explain to her friends how she knows the new guy, Joshua, without ever having met him before) all hell breaks loose. The popular girl, Gracie, starts to make Laney's life harder than it should be. At one point Gracie goes as far to say that Laney worships Satan. Jones does an excellent job portraying the prejudices teenagers can have regarding things they have no idea about. Your heart breaks for Laney and you're glad she has a true friend, Carly, on her side. When Jones finally introduces us to Joshua Bangs, she does it in a way where she shows us there are no awkwardness between Laney and him. Gradually she feeds us information regarding what Joshua knows and believes. The fact he accepted it as truth and when he realizes they share a bond, it is a beautifully written moment.
Jones does a good job with the historical research. During the flashbacks to 17th century Plymouth you feel as you are part of it. One of my favorite flashback scenes is Wildflower hiding so she too can learn the English language because she wants to be able to communicate with Joshua. Of course in any love triangle there will be a losing party. In this case one can't help but feel sorry for Jordan (Paco) knowing that history is working against him. You secretly cheer him on, but at the same time your heart breaks at the possibility of Joshua and Laney (or in their past: Joshua and Wildflower) not being together. Jones slowly feeds us information regarding the history of all three and their ties to 17th century Plymouth. While reading I kept wondering if this, present day, was their only reincarnated life or if there were others. If there were others, what were they and how did they story end? Alas we didn't have to wait long since Jones gives us one additional life, the 20th century during World War II. All three must work together to stop history from repeating itself, primarily how the love triangle ended, and she ends book one with an intriguing cliffhanger.
I gave it a 4 due to the change in tenses in a few places. Nothing major, but a bit noticeable. Also the changes from past to present (mostly later in the book) tended to be a bit distracting especially towards the end where she fully explains Wildflower, Joshua, and Paco's story. By no means does it affect reading, but if you're the type to be heavily drawn into a book this might distract you a bit. The language during the flashback scenes is a bit too modern, but I let it go because at one point Laney and Joshua are talking about memories and how those memories belong to the previous lives. Everything Laney, Joshua, and Paco saw were seen through modern eyes. Other than that the book is pretty much solid. I really can't wait to see how this ends.
This review was posted on my blog: Literary, etc.