Monday, November 2, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': walk on earth a stranger

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson


synopsis: 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.

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.

full review under the cut! 

I have to admit something to y'all. Well, actually two things. Number one. I never read anything by Rae Carson before this book, even though I've been wanting to read Girl of Fire and Thorns and the subsequent additions to that series LITERALLY since they started coming out. (shameful, I know) and Number Two: this is only the second western themed novel I've ever read. At least since I was like ten. (The other one was Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, which I LOVED and have a review of here) Bearing these two things in mind, I set out to retrieve and also read this book. I was looking forward to it, because not only was it a western, it was also a western combined with *magic,* which is definitely something that I can get behind. And let me just say, this book did not disappoint me. It was everything that I was hoping for and more, and I would definitely recommend it to you if you have even a little shred of interest in this subject!

This is, at its base, the story of a girl named Lee who can sense the presence of gold. Which is quite a nice thing to have in Gold Rush-era America. However, Lee has to keep this power a secret, because if people found out, god knows what they would do to use her, both because she is a fifteen year old girl and also because she is a gold diviner. She lives on a quiet homestead in Georgia with her parents until one day they are taken away from her, killed by someone she thought she could trust. After this tragedy, the only person in the world that she can trust is her next door neighbor, the son of a Native American and a drunken Irishman named Jefferson. He begs Lee to come west with him, to make for the gold fields of California, and it is not until Lee realizes just how deep the betrayal of her parents is that she decides to go, to meet Jefferson in Independence, Missouri. The story of her journey there, and then west, is exciting and heart-wrenching and beautiful, and I was completely sucked into the world.

Lee is a really interesting character, and I appreciated that she was complex in her desires and choices. She sees the necessity in dressing like a boy to trek across the country on her own, but she finds herself missing her skirts, and also, interestingly feels inherently dishonest in pretending to be something that she is not, even if it was vital to her survival. I thought this was such a new way of looking at the "girl disguised as a boy" trope that we see often enough in books. Then, when she is eventually found out, she laments the loss of the freedom that she experienced when she was a boy, even while she is glad that she doesn't have to lie anymore. I loved that Lee is a hard worker and she never complains, she just does what she has to do to survive, and recognizes that life is the hardest thing to happen to anyone. She is strong, both physically and emotionally, and doesn't let her parents death and her betrayal get to her. I just felt like she was a really real girl, someone who I could've been friends with, and that made her even more enjoyable to read.

There are so many characters in this book, that to think that I could describe them all would be folly. I mean, I didn't realize just how many people there would be in this novel until I opened the book and found a literal list of characters and where they come into the story on the first couple of pages.I don't want to say too much about them because I loved learning about them as I went along, but I found it so impressive that Rae Carson was able to fully characterize so many people in a relatively short novel. There was so much packed into the pages, and I think that is one of the main reasons that this is a surprising five stars for me.

Rae Carson's writing as a whole is incredibly impressive to me. Having never read anything else by her, I didn't quite know what to expect, and I found myself just sitting there in awe of how good it was. There is something about it that is just full and rich, if that is even the right way to describe it. Like I said, I was totally sucked into the story from the very first page, and I chalk that up to her exceptional writing, because the gold rush is not a time that particularly interests me. Even if this time period is not one that you would normally look for in a historical fiction novel, I would definitely recommend that you give it a try, because there is a nugget of magic in the writing, much like there is in the story (lol GOLD NUGGET JOKES!)

The magic system in this novel is still very much an unknown. We find out in the first chapter that Lee can sense gold, and that it is as physical as her other senses: something visceral that alerts her to its presence. But this is really all we find out about through the whole novel. We don't know why she has this power, who else may possess it, and if this is the only type of magic in her world. I think it made me even more intrigued for the next books in the series, because this aspect is still such a mystery, even though it is the main reason that the events in this book happen at all. I can't wait to find out more about Lee's powers, and especially how they relate to the pasts of her parents, which are also still a mystery.

I really loved how ambitious this story was, and it definitely worked for me. I loved out main character and how she was deep and strong while also being true to herself. The writing was incredible, and I loved how it was a historical fiction with just a little extra oomph thrown in with the magic element. I would highly highly recommend this if you are at all interested in it!


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Though sadly I didn't, I found it kind of boring a lot through the middle. Nice blog as well and great review! And definitely read TGOFAT it's really good! :)


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