Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
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 murder 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.
Hello fellow book friends! I recently (as in a while ago) finished Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, and discovered a truly great book! It is jam packed with historical aspects and lovely characters. I felt like I was traveling to California right along with them, experiencing everything that they did and feeling the things that they felt. Carson’s writing is elegant yet brutally honest, and it makes for a great historical read!
I feel that one of the best aspects of this book was its characters. Leah (or Lee) Westfall has a power that enables her to sense gold around her, which is super helpful during the time of the California Gold Rush. Unfortunately, I found that these powers were sometimes cast aside during the story. There were parts where I would forget that she even had powers, but they were incorporated nicely when they were included. Leah keeps her abilities a secret between her and her parents, not even her best friend Jefferson knows. Leah is an incredibly hard worker and isn’t afraid to be herself, aside from hiding her powers. She loves her parents and Jefferson (he’s just a friend, but more on him later) dearly, which is very admirable, and a bit rare in YA books.
I found that I could relate to Leah quite well, despite her being from the 1840s. She is willing to stick to her gut and do what she thinks is right, no matter what. She is tough, and remains so throughout the book. I also could connect since we are learning about this time period in my American History class, and I enjoyed being able to connect what I am learning to the story!
And there’s Jefferson. He’s lovely, really, but we spend a bit of the book without him. He wants to travel to California with Leah, but they end up parting ways. When he is a part of the story, I found him to be quite enjoyable. He is sweet and caring, especially towards Leah. There isn’t a whole lot that we know about him, but he was pretty great anyways. As for his relationship with Leah, there isn’t a whole lot to say. I REALLY wanted them to be together, but they just don’t get a whole lot of alone time. I wished that there was more romance between them, but many readers may find the minimal romance refreshing.
There are also many other characters that are introduced along Leah’s journey to the West. I won’t go into detail, but I began to really like many of the other characters as well. Each person she encountered had a unique, realistic personality, and I was able to tell them all apart. Sometimes, in books with many “minor” characters, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who, but that was not the case here. I could easily keep them all straight, and they all had a different impact of Leah’s life. I loved how each person affected her differently, and they all worked together to achieve their goal of reaching the West and having the chance to start a new life. The friendships created throughout the book were wonderful, and each one had special meaning.
Plot & Writing
I found the book to be very exciting in the beginning, full of action and mystery, but there were some boring parts later on. It was slow moving at times, and I wished some events could have been moved along faster. However, I really liked the historical aspects. I am not always a huge fan of historical fiction, but this one was good. It seemed to stay true to actual historical events, which was explained in a note from the author at the end of the book. For me, the neat thing about historical fiction is that there are parts that are true. Some of the events are things that actually happened and played a role in shaping our society today. It is always interesting to see which aspects are true to history, and which are fictional.
Even though some parts were slow, I liked how everything progressed. Leah’s journey is documented well, and we can easily follow her journey from Georgia to California. We can experience everything the characters experience, as the writing is always very vivid and breathes life into the characters and their surroundings. There are hardships and celebrations, all of which we can feel and experience, too. We can travel through towns and along trails with Leah and her friends, learning more about what it was like to be a settler moving west. That is one of my favorite parts of reading: being able to have the same experiences as the characters, and Rae Carson pulls you right into the story.
All in all, I found Walk on Earth a Stranger to be a lovely, well written book. I enjoyed spending time with Leah, Jefferson, and the other characters. They each had very unique personalities that made the story seem more realistic. I loved travelling with Leah and her friends, and I learned about American history in the 1840s along the way! I look forward to reading the next two books in the series!
This is the second book I have read towards my goal in the Backlist Reader Challenge 2018. You can check out more info on the challenge in my sign up post!
Have you read Walk on Earth a Stranger? Do you enjoy historical fiction? Isn’t it wonderful to be able to feel like you’re living in a character’s world, right alongside them?