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Walk on Earth a Stranger (Gold Seer Trilogy) Hardcover – September 22, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—This riveting saga features 15-year-old tomboy Leah, who has an extraordinary talent, the ability to sense when gold is near. She uses this skill to provide for her ailing parents, who live in an isolated part of Dahlonega, GA, the site of the first major U.S. gold rush in the early 1800s. They lead a fairly frugal existence so as not to arouse local suspicions. When her parents are robbed and murdered and her best (and only) friend, a half-white, half-Cherokee boy named Jefferson, leaves Georgia for a new gold rush in California, her world is turned upside down. To make matters worse, a nefarious uncle comes to claim her parents' property and use her gold-seeking skills for ill intent. Disguised as a boy, she leaves the only home she's ever known to reunite with Jefferson and join a wagon train. Lee, as she calls herself, is a smart, feisty, and likable protagonist who encounters all the hardships one would expect on the arduous journey West—illness, injury, hunger, exposure to extreme weather, and buffalo stampedes. All the while, she knows her uncle will stop at nothing to hunt her down. At the crux of the story is Leah's dilemma of keeping her gender and talent a secret from those to whom she becomes close. The time period rings true through Carson's skillful use of language and attention to detail. VERDICT Though the wagon train adventure is slightly cliché, the fast-paced plot, a hint of mild romance, and the added element of fantasy make this stand out from your average Gold Rush story.—Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
Praise for Walk On Earth A Stranger:
New York Times Bestseller
Fall 2015 Kids' Indie Next List selection
National Book Award longlist title
YALSA 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick
2016 Spur Award for Western Juvenile Fiction
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They were right.
In January 1849 Lee's life changes forever and, for the first time, she is completely alone in the world. Even her best friend, Jefferson, has left her behind to chase the promise of gold and a fresh start in California
With nothing left to keep her in Georgia and every reason to leave, Lee disguises herself as a boy and sets out to make her own way west and hopefully find her best friend along the way.
The road to California won't be easy. With so many people hoping to find gold and security, Lee is sure her witchy ways will give her an edge. If she can make it that far. After losing so much, and with so long to go, Lee will have to decide who she can trust and who she wants to be in Walk on Earth a Stranger (2015) by Rae Carson.
Walk on Earth a Stranger is the first book in Carson's Gold Seer Trilogy. Because this book focuses heavily on Lee's journey to California it does offer a contained story and can easily be read on its own.
While Walk on Earth a Stranger is very much in the same vein as traditional westerns, it does not offer a sanitized or romanticized version of the west as characters grapple with racism, sexism, and the physical dangers on the trail while also beginning to grasp the enormous change this great movement of people will bring to the western territories of the United States.
Although Lee has a magical ability to find gold, Walk on Earth a Stranger is a historical novel at its core, and extremely well-done at that. Carson has surpassed herself in this well-researched and nuanced novel that covers so many details and perspectives of the 1849 gold rush. Lee falls in with a ragtag cast of characters on her travels west. This varied and diverse group add a lot of dimension to what is already a very rich story.
Lee's first person narration brings the landscape and the era to life as she makes her long trek from Georgia to California. Against the vivid backdrop of her travels, Lee's story is often quite introspective as she ponders her own place in the world and her future out west.
Lee's journey to find herself while also finding her way to a new life is riveting and empowering. Walk on Earth a Stranger perfectly captures the freedom and possibility that can come with following gold west at a time when picking a new identity was as easy as adopting a new name. Walk on Earth a Stranger also returns, again and again, to the idea of choice as Lee is left to choose who she wants to be, and also who she wants beside her, on the long road ahead. A stunning start to a series that is sure to be gold for many readers.
I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Walk on Earth a Stranger was a good read, however much of this book can be summed up by the reader howling "Are we there yet!? Are we!?" like kids on a road trip. Most of it takes place on the trail from Georgia to California where the gold rush is at its peak. On the way Leah experiences hardships like shes never known. She encounters bandits and Native Americans, good and bad people alike. The author does not shy away from death in many of its ugly forms. I got very teary eyed a few times. This is the first of Rae Carson's books that I've picked up and her writing is descriptive and full of imagery. You.You experience Rae's grief and its not easily forgotten. Characters grow, friends are made and enemies established. This book is very true to the manner of human spirit. The reason I gave it three stars is because it reads like a starter book to me. Many things happen in this fantastical western, but the pace is very slow and I felt like a lot more could have been added to this at the end. Still, Ill be picking up the next book. This series shows a lot of promise.
Gold Seer is a breath of fresh air. I’ve read a lot of books in my time, and several involving a “kickass” female “heroine” that’s supposed to impress the pants off me. I’m usually disappointed and annoyed; on few occasions I’m happily impressed (such as in Graceling, Ashfall, and Finnikin of the Rock). This was one of those few occasions. Lee Westfall doesn’t complain, doesn’t over indulge, and doesn’t boast. Instead of talking about it—she proves it. Can she shoot better than a man? She proves it. Can she survive on her own? She proves it.
And don’t get me wrong. This book is western travel all throughout and you’ll read a fair amount about riding horses and driving carts. But the travel is broken up with spurts of action and meaningful character development that really make this story sing.
Buy it for the cover (because it's gorgeous), keep it for the content. 5/5.