Before I get to my review of the book, I just want to talk a minute about the history of eugenics in the United States. I have never been taught this in school. I am absolutely outraged and disgusted that not only were eugenics very prominent in the United States, to the point that a lot of historians believe Nazi Germany's eugenics were inspired by it, but we (Americans) completely overlook it and pretend like it never happened when talking about American history. I have been in school for about 11 years and never, not once have I ever learned about American eugenics.
Nothing good ever came out of ignoring history and not teaching the truth. American schools should teach honestly about all of American history- the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Now, for my review:
Holy shit, this book was INTENSE.
Thank you, Cat Winters, for writing a story with diverse characters and making it a good story. As much as I celebrate diversity, it's not enough for a book to be diverse. It has to have a solid plot and complex characters. That's exactly what The Steep & Thorny Way has. It is both diverse and genuinely good and I applause Ms. Winters for that.
There's some heavy themes like racism and homophobia, and I appreciate that they were addressed. I'm very sickened at the idea of all the bigotry that existed in the United States long ago. Honestly, some of that bigotry still exists today but it was so much more blatant back then and it sickened and disgusted me that people could be so full of hate. Yet I'm glad that the author shone a light on the bigotry that existed back then instead of ignoring it.
I really like Hannalee, she's strong and resilient and so likable. Also like Joe a lot.
There's a lot of action and it was so exciting and also kinda scary. I didn't know who to trust.
Tl;dr version- A well-written historical fiction with a diverse and likable set of characters, lots of action, and deals with heavy themes. Highly recommend. I only took off a star because I didn't quite love it, but I still liked it immensely.