Walking Home by Eric Walters is a realistic adventure story. It has a slow pace but holds the reader’s interest.
Doubleday Canada has added multimedia elements to the novel available on the webpage: www.ericwalterswalkinghome.com and there symbols throughout the book indicating when readers might want to access the special features. I like seeing the pictures, it helps develop a mental picture with a book set outside of my experience. The author notes would be helpful to a class or book club studying the novel. It’s interesting and admirable that Walters immerses himself in the setting and talks to the people before writing about other cultures.
The dialogue is formal, differing greatly from that of books set in North America. The characters have been through so much, they can’t risk offending anyone, or failing to show respect. They are appreciate of every tiny kindness and every item they own. Different from the entitled attitude more common here.
Muchoki is a kind and loyal character. He is ambitious and brave in his quest to give his sister a a better life. Oddly, despite my admiration for the character and the tragic past and circumstances that are described, I don’t feel an emotional connection to him. Walters does a good job at outlining situations, and educating his readers about circumstances, but he fails to make the personal connections. A tale in first person, with such a tragic yet inspirational setting should have a greater emotional resonance.
The message of peace repeats throughout the novel. The tribes that begin depicted as villainous are all later represented in a positive light through the kindness of one of their members. It is not the tribes as a whole behaving cruelly, it is individuals who are misguided. Muchoki makes friends easily with people from any tribe, as does his sister.
The cover design using a font made up of the mythical thread the children were following is clever and cute.