Thank you to Avid Reader Press for sending me a copy of A Short Walk Through a Wide World in exchange for an honest review.

In 1885 Paris, nine-year-old Aubry Tourvel finds a mysterious wooden puzzle ball that triggers a life-threatening condition. After a deadly incident at her family dinner table, Aubry realizes that movement is essential for her survival. If she stays too long in any one place, or returns once she’s left, she will die.

So begins her nomadic journey, constantly on the run from her strange condition. From the deserts of Calanshino to the Himalayan peaks, Aubry traverses diverse landscapes, encountering surreal and mystical settings. However, her condition prevents her from forming lasting connections, leading her to question the reality of the world she travels. As Aubry seeks companionship and meaning, she grapples with the haunting possibility that her journey may not mean anything at all.

RELATED: Tavern Talk Thursday: Dungeons and Drama Book Review

A Short Walk Through a Wide World has garnered comparisons to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Life of Pi and The Midnight Library, but does it live up to the hype? Douglas Westerbeke’s debut is certainly ambitious, spanning 70 years and the entire globe. This is a story that covers a great deal of ground, but doesn’t quite achieve the heart or depth of its predecessors.

Westerbeke depicts Aubry’s loneliness well. As she needs to travel constantly, her relationships are fleeting. The people she connects with can’t remain in her life. Whether they don’t want to move every few days, or simply can’t keep up with the pace Aubry must maintain, they all eventually fade away. As for Aubry, she eventually tires too. What’s the point of so many wonders if she doesn’t have anyone to share them with?

RELATED: Book Review: The Familiar

A Short Walk Through a Wide World sets out to address a lot of major themes. Westerbeke explores the pursuit of knowledge, the need for connection and what it means to truly live. However, he never dives as deep into these themes as he could. There’s a focus on traveling the world, of course, but never an exploration of what it means to live in it.

Similarly, Aubry never changes much. The reader experiences nearly 70 years of her life, and the story gets more sentimental, but Aubry doesn’t grow. I would have liked to see more of her character changing as she aged, especially considering the dramatic experiences she lived through.

Overall, this is a book with a fascinating presence, but not much else. It’s full of vibes but fairly meandering and without deeper explanations or emotion. Ultimately, I couldn’t grasp the purpose of Aubry or her story.

RELATED: Book Review: Women! In! Peril!

A Short Walk Through a Wide World is out now and available from your local independent bookstore or

TW: animal death, blood, body horror, child death, chronic illness, confinement, death, gore, isolation, medical trauma, murder, suicidal thoughts, violence, war, xenophobia

New Release Radar: New Books Coming Out on April 2