Recent Read: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Walk on Earth a Stranger coverWalk on Earth a Stranger does not disappoint.

The novel draws readers into the story of Leah Westfall, and the epic struggle of the pioneers who settled the United States. Though the story is sweeping in scope, it is also intimately personal when experienced through Leah’s eyes. The writer does not attempt to sugar-coat the evils done in the name of progress as the characters make their way across the country. With Leah’s magic ability simplfied, the author had the opportunity to focus more on character development and world building. This resulted in a rich character-driven, immersive story experience.

Some of the character’s attitudes regarding slavery and women, and Native Americans strains credibility, evincing a more modern attitude on these than is believable. The main character would have no trouble fitting into today’s society, despite the vast number of social changes that have occured since the era depicted. To her credit, Rae Carson handles some very sensitive issues with delicacy and subtlety without shying away from the awkwardness of those issues. She paints her characters in complex shades by making them varying degrees of disagreeable and trustworthy. The characters are always interesting, even if they aren’t always likable (including Leah).

It is not a fast-paced, action-filled adventure, and this is a good thing. The trek across the country was a brutal, grueling experience laced with danger and trimmed in death. Readers experience the same exquisitely brutal journey, feeling the windy breezes of the open plains, the sting of rope blistering the hand, the unforgiving heat of the desert sun and the heartbreak of every lost soul.

When things go wrong on this trek, though, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. A lot of the hardships the characters experience happens on the same day. That much bad luck occuring back to back is emotionally draining for a reader, and a little unbelievable. This is, admittedly, a bit of a nit-pick on my part. As a reader, I prefer the conflict and catastrophes to be a little more evenly spread out through the story. Despite this preference, Walk the Earth a Stranger is a novel I can whole-heartedly recommend.

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