The library is closed Sunday, May 26 and Monday, May 27

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff’s The Vaster Wilds (2023) transports the reader back to a horrifying and fascinating time in American colonial history known as the “starving time” at the Jamestown colony in 1609. An adolescent servant girl with no official name, known at different times in her life as ‘Lamentations’ or ‘Zed’, flees the colony one night after something truly dreadful occurs and then must survive on her own in the wild with minimal supplies and food. As the girl eats whatever the forest provides and takes shelter where she can, she thinks back on her own life and the circumstances that brought her to this new world. Life back in Elizabethan England was cruel in different ways, from being left out in the street after being born and spending the first years of her life in a poorhouse, to being sent to a wealthy woman as a servant (though it’s unclear if she was even paid any wages). She is then given no say in the matter when her mistresses' new husband decides to bring the whole household to the new world. Vaster Wilds is essentially a survival story, but Groff’s lyrical writing elevates it to a story about so much more and leaves the reader much to ponder after finishing the last page.