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. (Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
This book caught my eye, mostly because of the cover. Completely because of the cover (look at it, it’s gorgeous), but since my library is awful with things like this, I placed a hold on it right before it came out, but it didn’t actually get in until the end of November. So, naturally, I launched upon it the minute it was in my hands.
It wasn’t what I expected it to be. I expected it to be much more magical than it actually is, with a lot more gold digging than there actually was. Instead, it was a book primarily set on the Oregon Trail, with very little gold digging. I WAS SO DISAPPOINTED ABOUT THIS. I wanted more gold-y magical powers.
The book’s MC is Leah Westfall, otherwise known as Lee. She’s the only child, and her father can barely walk, so she’s the one in charge of the hunting and almost all of the chores that normally a boy would be doing. She also has the gold-sense, where she can feel the gold in the ground around her. Because of this, her family is what would be considered wealthy for the time. The problem? They have a sack of gold dust that they can’t exchange anywhere for risk of exposing their secret. A sack of gold dust that Lee’s uncle mom and dad for. And so when her uncle becomes her legal guardian, she runs away, heading to find her best friend, Jackson, before he leaves to California to join the gold rush.
This book does use the age-old “girl pretends to be a boy” trope, which, honestly, I don’t really see how that would work. You can bind your chest, cut your hair, and wear boy’s clothes, but girls just look different from boys.
But I’ll forgive the book for that, because Lee turns out to be a character that you can really root for, and is generally just a likable character. And, the do-I-maybe-like-him-or-is-he-just-my-best-friend? thing going on with her and Jackson was the cutest, and it actually progressed slowly, rather than having them launch at each other the first time they make eye contact on the trail.
My first problem with the book came with the secondary characters- there are so many of them and they all have super similar names that I had to keep flipping back and forth from the page I was on to the little chart in front of the book. I JUST COULDN’T KEEP TRACK, and that was annoying because I really wanted to keep reading without having to figure out how was who.
And this book did drag a bit in places, and had some clunky areas that made the kind of flow of reading stop for a couple of chapters before it picked back up again. But it was a decent read, even if it wasn’t shout it from the rooftops fantastic.
So! How was your Christmas? Did you get any books (I did!)? Does your family play how-many-people-can-we-shove-into-one-house too?
What about Walk on Earth a Stranger? Did you like it/dislike it? If you haven’t read it, do you want to? And if you have read it, did you expect it to be a bit more magical?