Leah is a 15-year-old living in Georgia in the 1800s, and though the gold rush is coming to an end, Leah’s unique ability means that she has an advantage over others looking for gold: She can sense when gold is near. Her family makes every effort to keep her ability under wraps, but when tragedy strikes, and Leah is faced with being used as a pawn in her uncle’s schemes, she chooses instead to disguise herself as a boy and make her way to California, to build a new life for herself.
I absolutely loved Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy; it was unique and incredibly written, with vivid world building, gripping storytelling, and an unconventionally wonderful main character. I knew I’d follow wherever Carson led, even if it was into a time period I’m not very interested in reading about. I trusted Carson’s ability as a storyteller, and I’m so glad I did: I was impressed and intrigued by Walk on Earth a Stranger at every turn.
Leah is a strong main character in Walk on Earth a Stranger; she is used to relying on herself and is fiercely independent, yet she also shows a vulnerability that is rare in main characters in YA novels. It’s so difficult to write a strong, confident character who still exhibits self-doubt and vulnerability, yet Carson excels at doing so. She’s a character you’ll root for, one who is insanely capable and deserves the chance to determine her own fate.
Carson does an excellent job discussing the dangers inherent in a cross-country trip in Walk on Earth a Stranger. Leah faces many challenges on her journey, not the least of which is keeping her identity under wraps. Despite the fact this is our world, and not a fantasy one like in Carson’s previous trilogy, there is still a lot of world building to be done, a huge and elaborate stage to be set. The details are vivid and the reader really gets a sense of what it must have been like to experience this sort of journey during the early 1800s.
If you haven’t read Rae Carson’s novels yet, Walk on Earth a Stranger is the first in a trilogy (though it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger—it stands as its own story) and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’re a person who waits until all installments are out before reading a series, though (and I can’t blame you there), then you should absolutely pick up her previous, completed trilogy. Either way, Carson is a novelist you should keep an eye out for; I certainly will pick up and devour anything she writes.
Other books by Rae Carson: