Breaking Wild

by Diane Les Becquets

The story alone would make this a great read: human against the elements, lost in the wild with dangers at every turn. A search team is battling threatening weather, rocky terrain and predatory animals to find a missing person.

But what makes it even more interesting is that the protagonists — hunter Amy Raye Latour and park ranger Pru — are both women.

The story is told in chapters alternating between the efforts of each woman and highlighting her past and how she arrived at the place where the story opens.  Both have followed different paths, but the similarities in their stories make an intriguing counterpoint.

Amy has come on a hunting trip with two male friends. While they use rifles, she uses a bow and arrow, which requires getting within 20 to 30 yards of the animal she is stalking. On the last of a three-day trip, Amy gets up early to go after an elk she had seen signs of earlier. There’s a tree blind in the area that she can use and she’s placed reflectors on trees to guide her way back.

Things start going wrong from the beginning. She assumes this going to be a quick trip, so she doesn’t prepare well. She doesn’t have enough food; she leaves behind an orange hat because she doesn’t want the elk to spot her, and doesn’t take her mittens. Her headlamp runs out of batteries so she can’t see the reflectors well. When she shoots the elk, she only wounds it and has to follow it on foot in a heavy rain for hours.  When she finally makes the kill and skins and dresses the carcass, she loads her pack with 80 pounds of meat, which a stalking cougar finds entrancing.

Pru is actually a Bureau of Land Management archeological law enforcement ranger assigned to protect Indian sites and artifacts in the area. She happens to have the only certified search-and-rescue dog in the county, Kona.  During hunting season, she does a little of everything.

The search team has to address every possible option as it works: was Amy trying to commit suicide? Did one of the men she was with try to kill her? They have no idea where she was headed. The terrain is rocky and there’s been snow and rain, making it difficult for Kona to pick up the scent. They speculate on where she went, how and when she might have gotten lost and where she is headed now.

To say much more about what happens next would be a spoiler. What makes this book so rich and keeps the pace and suspense steady is the shifting of the focus from one woman to the other.

When Amy meets her husband Farrell Latour, he tells her that love is easy: “You are my love. You are my all. It’s simple for me.” But Amy, an emotionally injured woman, says, “You can’t expect one person to be everything. You can’t expect one person to meet all your needs.” Every time Amy feels close to Farrell or needs to take a step toward commitment — moving in with him or getting married — she withdraws, convinced she can only fail him.

Pru, on the other hand, was set to have a story book life, marrying her high school sweetheart and raising her family in the same community near Liberty, Missouri, that she grew up in. But when he’s killed in a farming accident, she shuts down.  Her family encourages her to go to Colorado where her brother is going to school.  When she gets pregnant during a casual relationship with a colleague, she doesn’t even tell him she’s pregnant. To the outside world, she’s a stable, single mother raising a great kid, Joseph. A neighbor and long-time friend, Colm, currently the sheriff of Paisaje County, is struggling to get over a divorce after a 14-year marriage. He and Pru are creeping, at a glacial pace, into a redefinition of their relationship.

This book is so vividly written you’ll need to have an afghan handy for the snow scenes. There are only two ways a survival story can turn out, but this books keeps you guessing up to the final harrowing pages. In the process, it credibly wraps up the threads of three stories: Amy’s rescue, Amy’s relationship with Farrell and Pru’s with Colm.

The Author: Diane Les Becquets

 Les Becquets is a multi-award winning author and an avid outdoors woman. Breaking Wild is her first adult audience book; she wrote three young adult novels, The Stones of Mourning Creek, Love, Cajun Style and Season of Ice, which received a Pen American Fellowship.

In addition to teaching creative writing and writing novels, Les Becquets has been a medical journalist, an archaeology assistant in Colorado, a lifeguard and a music teacher. She lived in Northwestern Colorado with her husband and three sons for 14 years before moving to New Hampshire.

She is a faculty member of the Mountainview MFA program in fiction and nonfiction at Southern New Hampshire University. She was the program director there for more than three years.

She has taught creative writing around the country at universities, writers conferences, and in shelters for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

A native of Nashville, she received her bachelor’s degree in English from Auburn University and her master’s of fine arts degree from the University of Southern Maine.


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