Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

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Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

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“The article made it seem like we were called to some great national purpose, a destiny so manifest that is was inevitable we should pack up and cross the continent. The discussion of travel routes, by sea and land, made us feel a part of some greater strategy. The instructions, the lists of supplies – they all felt like foolproof plans that would protect us and deliver us safely.

“But the strategy does not matter, and our plans will not protect us.”

The six month trek from Georgia to California with no money and no security during the California Gold Rush is daunting to say the least, but Leah “Lee” Westfall knows it’s her only chance to live her own life away from her greedy Uncle Hiram who is after her gold-divining powers. So after her parent’s death, she embarks on a life or death journey to the golden fields of California during the California gold rush.

When I started this book, I was on a plane to Yellowstone National Park- a very similar journey as Lee. I couldn’t help but think on how much easier I had it. I had no oxen that could die on the journey, and I wasn’t trying to outrun my insane uncle. But with Rae Carson’s “Walk on Earth a Stranger,” I could go back in time 165 years and undertake the same perilous adventure.

As is the case in most young adult novels, this book does have a couple, Lee and her best friend Jefferson. However, one spends the entire book denying her love and the other spends the entire book too afraid to straight up say, “I love you.” Yes, it’s clear to the reader, but for some reason she can’t see it. When I was reading this book, I had to refrain from shouting, “KISS ALREADY!” Fortunately, “Walk on Earth a Stranger,” will be a trilogy so I have plenty of time for mushy romantic moments between Lee and Jeff (and hopefully no love triangles).

Lee is a very admirable character because of her courage and determination. She, a 17 year old girl in the 1840s, took up one of the most dangerous journeys she could with a brave face. Not only was it dangerous because of the deserts, highway robbers and lack of funds, but also because if anyone found out she was female she could be sent back to a horrible uncle with no escape. Now, when you add in the fact that she has the “witchy” power of sensing when gold is near, she’s in even more danger. She grows a lot during the course of the novel, physically and mentally. I think that’s the sign of good writing: growth.

The characters were all growing throughout the novel. There were villains, of course, but they weren’t wholly evil. Women, who were originally docile and obedient, found a hidden strength on the journey that they never needed before. Even Jefferson has changed. At one point, Lee talks about how Jefferson looks older because of a thicker neck, stronger jaw, broader shoulders and tanned skin. Translation: “Wow, he’s a babe now.”

I’ll admit, the beginning of the book is slow. I almost didn’t want to read it because it was that slow, but I’m so glad I did. When you read it, you just have to power through the beginning and it becomes a great book.

All in all, I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend that you read it because it is a very interesting story that I’m sure will explode very soon. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel.

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