(Image from Barnes & Noble)
"When there's gold to be had, you can't trust anyone. Not a single soul" (15%).
Like a dowser is drawn to water, Leah Westfall can sense gold. It's a handy skill to have. And a dangerous one. Although her peculiar magic helped the Westfalls buy their large Georgia homestead, Leah has to keep her abilities secret. If no one knows what the 15-year-old can do, no one can exploit her.
Then, Leah's parents are brutally murdered, their home ransacked. It's obvious that someone knows about the Westfalls' secret stash of gold. But who? When Leah's oily Uncle Hiram conveniently appears on the scene, Leah can't contain her disgust. She can't prove he's responsible for her parents' death, but that doesn't make it any less true. With Hiram as her guardian, Leah knows she'll never be free. She refuses to become his gold-finding pet.
Disguising herself as a boy, "Lee" takes off for sunny California, where she hopes to blend in with other prospectors hunting their fortunes. In a place where gold lust prevails, she should be able to camouflage her secret skill sufficiently. Leah's best friend, Jefferson McCauley, is somewhere along the trail; she prays that, somehow, fate will allow them to meet up again. In the meantime, she must fend for herself on a long, hard journey filled with dangers of every kind. With Hiram hot on her tail, it's a desperate run for her life. Can she escape her uncle's greedy clutches? Will she make it to California unscathed? And what of Jefferson? Can she find the boy who's always loved her in the vast wilderness of an untamed land? Anything can happen on the long, perilous trek—especially to a girl with a priceless, golden gift.
I love books like Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first novel in Rae Carson's Gold Seer Trilogy. Starring a brave, hard-working heroine, it's a story brimming over with action, adventure, romance and, most important of all, heart. Who cares if it's not the most original tale in the world? I loved it from start to finish. The story is engaging, the characters endearing (with a few exceptions), the historical details intriguing. It's an excellent novel that will appeal to teens and adults, while being clean enough to hand to tweens. Did I mention that I adored it? Well, I did.
(Readalikes: Like a River Glorious and Into the Bright Unknown (coming October 2017) by Rae Carson; also reminded me of Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee and Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and scenes of peril