By Rae Carson
Greenwillow Books, 2015, 436 pages, YA Western
"Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home--until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?"
Without initially realizing I’d done so, this is the second book I’ve picked up this year about a girl who disguises herself as a boy and sets off across the prairie to find a new life in California. While both books have some obvious similarities, they also have some marked differences. Lee Westfall is a bit more successful at passing herself off as a boy. She already knows how to hunt, split wood, and ride a horse. This makes her a bit more capable of fending for herself, but I liked that the book still stressed the fact that Lee needed the help of other people to make her way. I also liked the commentary on the different expectations the time period had for boys and girls.
I enjoyed Under a Painted Sky because it told the story of the trip West through the eyes of diverse characters. The characters in Walk on Earth a Stranger are more typical, but they are a bit more fleshed out as well, and it will be interesting to see how each of these characters fare in the next book in the series. Read both of these books for great western adventure stories with a touch of light romance.