Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
In a world where everything is categorized and posted on social media, where does one fit? How do we transcend the expectations of others? How do we find our space? Honestly, we do this by choosing ourselves over labels and societal expectations. This truth runs like a thread through fabric in Daisy Prescott’s Happy Trail: Park Ranger Book 1.
To begin with, as an author, Daisy Prescott is new to me. When I signed up to read ARCs for the SmartyPants books, I was most excited at the prospect of reading new authors. I was familiar with two of the other authors in the series. Their writing is some of my favorites, so I thought Penny Reid’s collection of authors would fall in the same vein as them. And I wasn’t wrong and I wasn’t disappointed by Daisy Prescott. From the outset of her newest book, I connected immediately with her storytelling. There is a flow to her words that grabs you and pulls you into the story of her hero and heroine. Even more, she crafts Park Ranger Jay and Olive as mysteries needing a slow unveiling. This pacing keeps the reader engaged, even though quite a bit of it is Jay and Olive simply talking and getting to know each other. Quite frankly, these two don’t physically connect until much later in the story. Prescott is careful to build their chemistry, heightening her readers’ interests in their happy ending. This is the gift of her story-telling.
Beyond Prescott’s craftsmanship of her storytelling, why should you read this book? Why did I love this book?
- Honestly, I learned from this book. I’m a West Coast gal. I live in California, and I have traveled, but there are parts of this nation that I have little information on. The Appalachian Trail is one of those places. I had no idea that people hike it over the course of several months. As I was reading Prescott’s story, I researched and followed along with Olive’s journey. I even thought about adding the feat of hiking the trail to my bucket list. Books should entertain us, but, more importantly, they should teach, engage, and challenge us. Happy Trail did this for me.
- Park Ranger Jay. Yep, I said it. The hero of Prescott’s story is a bit dreamy, albeit fairly crotchety. He has skills in nature that would make any reader swoon. Who doesn’t love a handsome, protective, nature adventurer/lover? Those are Jay’s outer qualities, the appearance of him. What makes his character important is his internal struggle. As a biracial man whose outward appearance allows him access to societal privilege, Jay is conflicted. He feels guilt over fitting into society as a white male while his mother and sister encounter judgment, and he fails to find his space in his Japanese heritage. Instead of creating his own space, Jay hides. He forgoes society to a large extent for nature because it allows him an escape from his battle. Prescott’s creation of Jay Is the depth of her storytelling. She illustrates the difficulty of finding your space when you don’t quite fit the societal box. Jay’s conflict is profound.
- Olive. Prescott’s heroine exemplifies the challenges of Millenials. Olive comes from a privileged affluent family. She has grown up with everything she’s ever wanted. With that, however, comes expectation. Her parents, her peers, her former loves require her to live a certain way. And she struggles with that, so much so that she becomes engaged six times and quickly breaks those engagements because they don’t fulfill a need deep in her soul. A boyfriend asks her to hike the Appalachian Trail, and she agrees because his offer entails hiking it comfortably. As their hike progresses, Olive feels like a fraud. When her situation changes, she decides to hike the trail with integrity, embracing the challenges of it. She adheres carefully to the trail life, forgoing the expectations of her society. In doing so, it’s freeing to her. When she meets Jay, he continues to challenge her, creating a connection between the two of them that is developed in their own expectations of each other. Prescott uses Olive’s character to challenge us to live our lives off the grid and away from societal notions.
- Olive and Jay together. These two find their own space in a short period of time. There is clear chemistry between the two of them from their meeting. What begins as disdain from Jay towards Olive quickly becomes admiration and physical electricity between the two of them. As much of their story unfolds, they grow this deep connection. It’s this connection that holds Prescott’s story together. These two struggle against the binds of their world, and, in doing so, they build a future together. Their happily ever after is one of the bests I’ve read recently because its images are stunning.
We all want to fit somewhere. Life is easier if we connect with someone who “sees” the real us. When we contend with someone else’s expectations about our lives for reasons beyond our control, life becomes harder. Daisy Prescott’s Happy Trail shows us the harmony that comes from creating our own space based on our own expectations. It beautifully reminds us that finding the person who accepts us as we are is the best type of love.
In love and romance,