Like a River Glorious

416p. (Gold Seer Trilogy: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062242945.
Gr 9 Up-Not as strong or as enchanting as Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in the trilogy, this follow-up has plenty of action but falls short on substantive plot. Leah Westfall, 16, has the ability to sense gold and has made it from Georgia to California seeking both safety and her fortune at the start of the Gold Rush. Her talent has also drawn the interest of her purely nefarious uncle, Hiram, who is hot on her trail. After divulging her secret to her close group of trail mates and staking claims in a prosperous spot, Leah and her half-Native American best friend (and love interest) Jefferson are kidnapped and imprisoned by Hiram and his henchman. Every character is an archetype worthy of the soap opera-style drama that ensues, including offbeat old miners, lovestruck and ever-hopeful Jefferson, a reluctant but helpful prostitute housekeeper, a stoic "bodyguard" for Leah, and the lecherous uncle who will stop at nothing, including murder and brutal Indian enslavement, to get what he wants. As Leah and her compatriots hatch a plan to escape, an Indian uprising is planned, and the stakes grow deadly for many.
VERDICT Fans of the first book may enjoy the nonstop histrionics, but others can pass this by.-Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
In this second book in the projected trilogy beginning with Walk on Earth a Stranger (rev. 9/15), sixteen-year-old narrator Leah ("Lee") Westfall--gifted with the "witchy" talent for finding gold--and company stake their claim in California. But trouble's not far behind: Lee's murderous uncle Hiram has tracked her down and orders his henchmen to set the camp ablaze. To protect the settlement from further attacks, Lee--accompanied by best friend/love interest Jefferson and by Tom, one of the three bachelor "college men"--surrenders to Hiram, who is desperate to exploit her gold-finding abilities. Held captive at "Hiram's Gulch," but with innumerable freedoms and luxuries compared to the Chinese and Native American people enslaved by her uncle, Lee joins an uprising against him--and learns disturbing information about her own family. Carson's alternate Gold Rush-era setting is fierce and brutal: the uprising is very bloody, and many of the good guys perish. The socio-politics, too, are complicated. Jackson's mother was Cherokee (his father was a violently abusive white settler), and as glad as he is to be back with Lee in their soon-to-be-chartered town, he bristles at the idea of owning property: "It's not my land, Lee. And it wouldn't be right to just…take it." An informative author's note provides additional historical context. elissa gershowitz

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