Hello, Bookish Buddies, and welcome to my Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson review! I made a decision in the middle of January to read one random book from my Goodreads TBR per month, and this was the one the randomizer gods happen to have chosen. For those of you who are not familiar with this book, here is the synopsis:
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.
I am going to be completely honest here (wow, am I not normally?), I did not like the beginning at all. There were way too many info dumps, the characters seemed one dimensional, and it was filled with tropes. However, the story pleasantly surprised me as I kept reading.
I’ve mentioned this in a lot of my posts, so if you’re a regular to my blog, I apologize, but I like going into books without knowing anything about the plot. That being said, the beginning of this book gave me incredibly crappy murder mystery vibes, but was actually the story of a runaway teen during the California Gold Rush period. Carson writes a lot about the experience of the Oregon Trail in this novel, which I found super cool and informative. She writes about many real hardships that Americans making that journey had to face, including girls dealing with their periods. You rarely see that in YA, and I thought it was awesome.
We also have an interesting cast of characters that I had very mixed opinions about. There’s Lee, our kickass female protagonist who really grows and develops over the course of the story. There’s also Jefferson, Lee’s best friend brings up the prejudice that white people had against Indians in the Gold Rush era. There are also a lot of really in depth side characters, which I both liked and didn’t like since they were really detailed, but also hard to keep track of. Lastly, there were the Joyners. I have a lot of mixed feelings about them. Mr. Joyner was not the sharpest tool in the shed, and both Joyners kept losing their kids. You’d think they’d keep an eye on them in the middle of nowhere. Mrs. Joyner was really obnoxious at first, but she grew on me. However, there was something about her that pissed me off.
Yes, I needed to make a separate paragraph about her cooking skills. Don’t worry, no spoilers here. Just a random side rant. So Mrs. Joyner doesn’t know how to cook, and everything she cooks is terrible. Keep in mind that this story takes place over a span of eight or nine months, yet she learns nothing about cooking. She always burns the pancakes or “flapjacks”. You would really think she’d learn how to not burn the goddamned pancakes over a span of eight months, but no. She just has to keep burning them every time. She never learns, and she’s a smart character, so that just felt really unnatural to me.
Anyway, the book just gets gradually better over time, until the ending, which didn’t sit right with me. I’m not going to get into that because spoilers, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
However awesome the book may have become over time, I could not give it four stars because of the beginning, and a lot of the plot points were unnaturally convenient. Overall, I rated Walk on Earth a Stranger 3.5/5 stars.