September 17, 2015

Going for Gold • Walk on Earth a Stranger

Walk on Earth a Stranger book cover
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

I honestly have nothing but praise for Rae Carson's latest masterpiece, Walk on Earth a Stranger. I already predicted that I'd love the way she's written this Western YA novel, as I'm a big fan of her previous trilogy. But I didn't expect to fall head over heels in love with Leah Westfall and the story of her journey west to California! I was caught up in all her adventures, mishaps and triumphs alike, and I was loathe to set this one down whenever real life (#work) got in my way. 

Leah, or Lee as she's known by the people she meets on her way to California, is a really great character. Carson certainly infuses her with a great mix of complexity and relatability, and the combination made her pop off the page. I certainly wouldn't mind being her friend, considering how clever, brave and kind she is from start to finish. Even when danger finds her, even when she's surrounded by a lack of appreciation, Leah is stubborn, steadfast and she knows her worth. She's also a great example of a female character who does embrace femininity (She enjoys wearing skirts!), while capable of typically male tasks (Mucking stalls, and hunting for dinner, to name a few!). 

The real meat of this story lies in how it follows Leah as she makes her way west to California. If you've ever learned about this particular era, or if you've read any other books with a similar plot, then you'll know that traveling overland was full of terrific and terrible experiences. It worked really well for me that Carson describes the daily experience of these travelers from sunup to sundown. She also manages to inject the journey with other occurrences that often cropped up along the way: disease, death, disappearances, discord, romance, friendship and so on. I really admired the level of detail in her depiction, and felt fully immersed in Leah's particular time in history because of it. Plus, I really liked seeing Leah learn all about her fellow travelers as they spend days on the road together! Even though I only know the other characters through her relations with them, I still felt like I was getting to know the family fairly well.

Walk on Earth a Stranger is riveting, well-written and just plain compelling. Leah is a gal I can happily root for, and I really don't want to stop reading about what happens to her and her "found family". Thank goodness for this book being the first in a series! It means we've got more adventures, relationships and experiences good and bad lined up ahead of us to read, and I absolutely cannot wait.

What is your favorite Western film?

I haven't watched a lot of the older Westerns (except when I was in a film class during university days), so I thought I was going to have a hard time answering this question. Funnily enough, an answer came to me in the midst of doing some research - Shanghai Noon. Who can resist a comedy/action flick starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson as a team? I know I can't! I haven't seen this one in ages, but I do remember enjoying it when I did watch it back in the day.


  1. I'm 1/3 through this one and I LOVE Leah! Great book...can't wait to get back to it. Great review!

  2. I am so, so glad to hear that you loved this book! I adored her other series, so this is one of my highly anticipated books for 1015.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  3. YAAAAAS. I've been planning on reading this soon (alas I have only read 1 book this month since we got Finn lol) and I'm SOOOO happy to see you loved this one! I'm just so intrigued by the Wild West setting. I meant to read Vengeance Road at this point already too but obviously my little unintended reading vacation didn't make that happen. Do you suggest spreading those two reads out?? I heard someone say that reading VR and this one close together is not a good idea. I JUST WANT ALL THE WILD WILD WEST.

  4. I totally agree Alexa and am so thrilled that this one received a nod for the NBA long list. I think Westerns are probably my most problematic favorite because of the portrayal of American Indians in most but I did like how Carson didn't shy away from the ugly parts of western expansion here. (And I'm still waiting on Debbie Reese's review on her blog to see her native perspective.) I wasn't a big fan of Carson's first trilogy but gosh I do love this book!

    In terms of older Westerns, might I also recommend that you watch How the West Was Won or Stagecoach ASAP?

  5. I plan on reading this one soon and I really think that I'll love it. Not only did I LOVE Rae's GoFaT trilogy, I love westerns! I can't wait!


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