Leaving Independence by Leanne W. Smith
Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)
I am always in the search of a great western. Leaving Independence is a story of Abigail Baldwyn’s journey on the Oregon Trail with her children. Abigail believed her husband Robert was killed in the Civil War but when she finds out he is alive and intentionally didn’t come back to his family, her grief changes to anger and then to resolve to find him. While taken aback by the tone of her husband’s letter, she uproots herself and her children to travel west to, hopefully, be reconciled and reunited with him
Leaving Independence is full of the usual western genre suspects: the mysterious stranger, the strict religious believer, the rough cowboy, the damsel(s), etc. But what category does Hoke Matthews fit in? Hired to lead one of the companies during Abigail’s trip on the Oregon Trail, Hoke seems to be a man of integrity with loyal friends and the respect of the others; however, he is very secretive and generally keeps to himself. Abigail and her children soon bond with Hoke and as the trail gets closer to Abigail’s husband, Hoke begins to realize he has developed feelings for the family. But what will happen when Abigail and Robert are reunited?
Much of Leaving Independence is rather predictable. In addition to the usual cast of characters, there are the usual trail complications: dangerous water crossings, weather difficulties, snakebites, illness, etc. Smith provides a story with characters that were fun to read about but the story left me a little unsatisfied with the quick conclusion. I’m not sure this will make it on to my list of great westerns, it was an enjoyable read. 3 out of 5 stars.