Review: The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

THE RECKLESS OATH WE MADE
Bryn Greenwood
Publication date: August 20, 2019
Series: No
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: G.P. Putnam's Sons and NetGalley



GOODREADS  *  AMAZON








S Y N O P S I S

Zee is nobody's fairy tale princess. Almost six-foot, with a redhead's temper and a shattered hip, she has a long list of worries: never-ending bills, her beautiful, gullible sister, her five-year-old nephew, her housebound mother, and her drug-dealing boss.

Zee may not be a princess, but Gentry is an actual knight, complete with sword, armor, and code of honor. Two years ago the voices he hears called him to be Zee's champion. He's barely spoken to her since, but he has kept watch, ready to come to her aid.

When an abduction tears Zee's family apart, she turns to the last person she ever imagined--Gentry--and sets in motion a chain of events that will not only change both of their lives, but bind them to one another forever.


M Y   T H O U G H T S

Okay. *deep breath* Let’s do this. The Reckless Oath We Made is one of those books that, when I turn the last page, I sit for a moment and let it all sink it. I marvel at what the author was able to convey. And then I wonder how in the world I am going to write a review that does it justice. (Confession: it’s been 2+ years since I read Greenwood’s All the Ugly and Wonderful Things and I still haven’t managed to articulate my feelings about it. In the simplest terms, it was phenomenal.) But I’m going to try.

Zee (real Name: Zhorzha) is brash and rough-around-the-edges and it seems as if it weren’t for bad luck she’d have no luck at all. A motorcycle accident left her with a shattered hip, chronic pain, and a mountain of medical bills. She also helps support her hoarder mother, her older sister and her five-year-old nephew so her waitress income is supplemented by occasional drug trafficking. She meets Gentry while at physical therapy and his odd demeanor is impossible to ignore. While their interaction is short-lived, he remains a fixture in her life over the next two years, constantly keeping watch over her.

Gentry is a knight. On the autism spectrum, he hears voices (Gawen, Hildegard, and the Witch), speaks in Middle English, spars with swords and is building his own castle. Gentry is single-minded in his duty as Zee’s champion, and the oath he has taken to protect her. When Zee’s sister is taken hostage by prison escapees, Gentry is by his Lady Zhorzha’s side, ready to aid in battle when she decides to recover her sister on her own.


Zee and Gentry were an improbable pairing that still made perfect sense. Zee accepted Gentry in every way and allowed him to express himself in the way that was uniquely him. She did not patronize him or mock him or expect him to change. Her immediate sense of belonging (or at least a wish to belong) with Gentry’s adoptive family was understandable since her own family fell apart (and did not recover) after her father died while serving a prison sentence for armed robbery. Zee wasn’t always a sympathetic character. She was single-minded in her efforts and used whatever means necessary to get what she needed. I found myself railing at her capriciousness while still recognizing the weight on her shoulders. In fact, my only quibble throughout the book had to do with Zee. (Highlight the following text for possible spoiler content: I truly wanted more atonement from Zee at the end of the book. She did recognize that others paid dearly for her decisions/actions – sometimes with life-changing consequences. Yes, she did take steps to apologize (like to Rosalinda and Charlene) but it felt so insignificant in comparison to what was lost. I wanted more from Zee, but maybe that was as much as she was capable of doing.)

In Gentry, Bryn Greenwood has created one of my favorite fictional characters ever. His chapters, written in his Middle English manner of speech, were among my favorites. With a moral compass that guided his every decision, a desire to prove himself worthy, and an innate kindness and compassion that melted my heart, Gentry is truly unforgettable. His surprising sense of humor always made me smile and his unwavering sense of right and wrong, in a world where doing the easy thing is so often chosen over doing the right thing, was inspiring.

The Reckless Oath We Made is a breathtaking mix of literary fiction, social commentary, modern-day fairy tale, and love story. Greenwood’s gift at creating utterly unique, fully-realized characters is astounding. And I lost track of the number of times I came across a sentence or phrase that captured a feeling so perfectly that I would just sit and stare at it. Like with All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Greenwood employs multiple narratives to weave her tale. Told mainly from Zee and Gentry’s points of view, there are also chapters from Zee’s nephew, Gentry’s mother, and more, which serve to create a story that comes to life and is truly mesmerizing. Greenwood is able to infuse this story with themes of family loyalty (which is stretched to its limits), mental illness, chivalry, and love in all its many forms. I could go on (and on) about all this story has to offer, but suffice it to say: The Reckless Oath We Made is among the best of 2019.

5/5 STARS


Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

____________________________________________________________________________________

About the Author

BRYN GREENWOOD is a fourth-generation Kansan and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer. She is the NYT bestselling author of The Reckless Oath We Made, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Lie Lay Lain, and Last Will. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Twitter: bryngreenwood 


16 comments

  1. Oh wow! This sounds wonderful! After reading your review I am gonna have to make sure if my library is gonna carry it. I hope so! Lovely review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenea. I really hope you'll love it if you decide to give it a try!

      Delete
  2. Whoa. That sounds intense and completely original.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really was incredibly original and unique. Both books I've read from Greenwood have been like that.

      Delete
  3. This is a book I really want to read so I've been anxiously awaiting your review since I knew you were reading it. I'm so happy to see those 5 stars from you. It sounds like such an incredible book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really was a remarkable story, Suzanne. I hope you'll think so, too, if you decide to give it a try.

      Delete
  4. This sounds like a unique but moving story. I think I'd have some issues with Zee, too, but Gentry sounds lovely! Wonderful review, Tanya! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zee wasn't always the most likable - she could be a prickly character - but you couldn't fault her for her loyalty to her family. She was willing to do whatever it took to take care of them.

      Delete
  5. "When Zee’s sister is taken hostage by prison escapees, Gentry is by his Lady Zhorzha’s side, ready to aid in battle when she decides to recover her sister on her own." - okay that's just really sweet. This book sounds interesting and a 6 foot-tall heroine? Yeah I'm definitely recommending this to a friend who wants to read books with tall heroines. They're kinda rare in fiction. Or maybe I just haven't read a lot of them.

    Anyway, love the review Tanya! I tried to hold myself back from highlighting the spoiler in case I pick this book up in the future :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that quote so sweet? And that summed up Gentry... he was the sweetest.
      A 6 ft tall heroine is definitely a rarity... hope your friend will like this one. And that you will, too, if you decide to give it a try at some point. :)

      Delete
  6. Wow Tanya, I didn't even know I wanted to read a romance..but you are making me add this one. First, because I love books with autistic characters and second because your review moved me and I know the book will take me on a journey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely wouldn't categorize this one as a romance. It's more literary fiction that just happens to have a sort-of unconventional romance included. I don't have a lot of first-hand experience with autism but I've read other reviews that say Greenwood's portrayal of Gentry is very accurate. I hope you'll love this one if you decide to give it a try!

      Delete
  7. So I wanted to say that I totally agree with you! I waited to read your review as I wanted to write mine first (it will be published next week) for fear of being influenced but you will find many things in common here! And yes I was mad at Zee at one point even if I understood why she did it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sophie! I feel like Zee was often put in impossible situations where there were no good options. It was just choosing between the less terrible options. But even when she did have better options available to her, sometimes she made decisions that made me want to shake her. I had to try and understand her reasoning, though. With her family background she had little reason to trust the police or the justice system.

      Delete
  8. Wow, this book sounds insane but I am totally intrigued. Everything I've read makes me think I shouldn't like it but you've really pulled me into wanting to experience it considering you weren't even certain how to put into words a review for this one. That's always a good sign for a book (at least for me, as the books I like best I cannot always explain why). I'm definitely keeping this on the radar in the hopes I can read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like there was even more I wanted to say about this one but there came a point where I just had to stop. LOL There were so many things about this one that I loved, that made me think, and that made it unforgettable.

      Delete