Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger

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Goodreads Summary:

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might muder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

Let me start with this: I was not as excited about this book as a lot of other people were, there was so much hype about this and not having read anything else by the author, and generally being weary of alternate history, I went into this with some reservations. Well, I needn’t have, it was pretty darn good.

First, it was not alternate history like I was afraid of, but general historical fiction, with a little witchyness thrown in. I loved the jargon, the visual depictions of life in American in the late 1800s, the diversity, and most of all how Carson confronted many of the social and political issues of that time. I really enjoyed the touches on Manifest Destiny, how idyllic it was, how different people viewed the idea, and how different people executed their interpretations. Also, the dealings with Native Americans and slaves, I really liked those parts of the story and how realistic they felt.

I was quite taken with our MC Leah/Lee, she was so interesting. She was a hard working girl with a strong sense of independence fostered by her loving family. When she has to strike out on her own I loved that though she was smart and strong she still had her fair share of issues, but she never gave up and as many bad people she ran into there were good ones too. I enjoyed watching she and Jefferson move from best fiends to something a little more (but they need to just happen already). Her growth throughout is really interesting as well, I wouldn’t say she’s stronger or smarter than she was in the beginning of the book, but she’s more confident and trusting.

The journey across the country was really fun to watch. I loved the dynamic of the wagon trail and how they all turn into one big family. And the diversity that Carson was able to craft into that group was so amazing! None of it felt overdone or unrealistic, and it was so impressive watching those people come together and strengthen over the period of their dangerous trek.

The two things I didn’t really like about this book were the relationship between Jeff/Therese/Lee. It was clear that Therese had a thing for Jeff, but I was never positive if Jeff liked her as more than a friend, it seemed like it was there to make Lee jealous and raise the “does he/she really like me as more than a friend” between she and Jeff. I also wished Lee had come clean to Jeff earlier about her ability with the gold, but it all worked out in the end.

I am really looking forward to continuing this series and seeing what happens with Lee and Jeff and their new adopted family. How Lee deals with her ability in the Gold Rush country, and what happens with her uncle.

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