A Short Walk Through a Wide World

A Novel

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Pub Date Apr 02 2024 | Archive Date Apr 09 2024
Avid Reader Press | Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster


“Imagine The Life of Pi, The Alchemist, and The Midnight Library rolled into one fantastical fable.” —The New York Times Book Review

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A dazzlingly epic debut that charts the incredible, adventurous life of one woman as she journeys the globe trying to outrun a mysterious curse that will destroy her if she stops moving.

Paris, 1885: Aubry Tourvel, a spoiled and stubborn nine-year-old girl, comes across a wooden puzzle ball on her walk home from school. She tosses it over the fence, only to find it in her backpack that evening. Days later, at the family dinner table, she starts to bleed to death.

When medical treatment only makes her worse, she flees to the outskirts of the city, where she realizes that it is this very act of movement that keeps her alive. So begins her lifelong journey on the run from her condition, which won’t allow her to stay anywhere for longer than a few days nor return to a place where she’s already been.

From the scorched dunes of the Calashino Sand Sea to the snow-packed peaks of the Himalayas; from a bottomless well in a Parisian courtyard, to the shelves of an infinite underground library, we follow Aubry as she learns what it takes to survive and ultimately, to truly live. But the longer Aubry wanders and the more desperate she is to share her life with others, the clearer it becomes that the world she travels through may not be quite the same as everyone else’s...

Fiercely independent and hopeful, yet full of longing, Aubry Tourvel is an unforgettable character fighting her way through a world of wonders to find a place she can call home. A spellbinding and inspiring story about discovering meaning in a life that seems otherwise impossible, A Short Walk Through a Wide World reminds us that it’s not the destination, but rather the journey—no matter how long it lasts—that makes us who we are.
“Imagine The Life of Pi, The Alchemist, and The Midnight Library rolled into one fantastical fable.” —The New York Times Book Review

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A dazzlingly epic debut that charts the...

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ISBN 9781668026069
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Average rating from 324 members

Featured Reviews

What a phenomenal gem! While I wish I had not read the editor's note at the beginning, because it gave away the suspense of the wonderful writing at the start of the book, this was one of my favorite books of the last few years. With an unusual story, phenomenal themes that make you think throughout the book, and a great ending, I just wish there was more to read by Westerbeke. Taking you from the streets of Paris through a crazy journey through the world, the messages intertwined throughout are deep and meaningful.

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An enchanting debut, brimming with marvels! We embark on a captivating journey with the odyssey of Aubry Tourvel, the protagonist who stumbles upon a mystical puzzle ball. While her siblings toss their treasured possessions into a well, aiming to snag wishes, Aubry detours. Opting to safeguard her newfound gem, she sets in motion a sequence of events. Mere days later, a chilling scene unfolds – Aubry's life begins to ebb away right at the heart of the family dining tableau. Swift medical intervention stems the crimson tide, yet the wake-up call sets her on an escapade beyond the city's edge. Aubry then realizes that movement alone keeps her alive and must keep moving and traveling to survive.

The narrative, bedecked with fantastical hues, is a symphony of self-discovery stretching across the tapestry of an entire lifetime. Amidst sweeping panoramas and ceaseless exploits, the story weaves an unquenchable thirst for exploration that snared my attention like quicksand. Though bittersweet in moments, it is an uplifting saga of solitude and the ache for belonging, all adorned in eloquent prose. The tale evokes emotion, crafting a poignant narrative that entranced me from the very outset. The author's imagination spun into Aubrey's exploits, and their finesse breathing life into an extraordinary premise is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Summing it up, this literary gem is a masterpiece of penmanship, and the premise, oh, how I adored it! Wholeheartedly, I absolutely 1000% recommend this book!

Thank you to NetGalley and Avid Reader Press for the ARC!

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"A Short Walk Through a Wide World" by Douglas Westerbeke is a captivating and imaginative debut that weaves together elements of fantasy, adventure, and a touch of magical realism. With its richly detailed world, engaging protagonist, and thought-provoking themes, this novel offers a unique and memorable reading experience.

The story follows Aubry Tourvel, a young woman cursed with a condition that forces her to keep moving in order to stay alive. From the very beginning, the novel draws readers in with its intriguing premise—Aubry's inability to stay in one place for too long creates a sense of urgency and constant motion that permeates the narrative.

Westerbeke's writing is both evocative and vivid, painting a lush and diverse landscape for Aubry's journey. The author's descriptions of various settings, from the Calashino Sand Sea to the Himalayas, are so immersive that they transport readers to these distant places, creating a sense of wonder and adventure.

The character of Aubry Tourvel is complex and well-developed. Her determination to survive and her yearning for connection make her a relatable and sympathetic protagonist. As she travels across the globe, readers witness her growth, resilience, and evolving understanding of herself and the world around her. Aubry's quest to find a place she can call home is both inspiring and heartwarming.

The novel also delves into themes of identity, the search for meaning, and the profound impact of human connections. As Aubry encounters various people and cultures, she learns about the diverse ways people find purpose and happiness, and how those values shape their lives.

The blend of magical realism and fantasy elements adds depth to the story, allowing readers to question the boundaries of reality and the possibilities of the unknown. The concept of a curse tied to movement is a unique twist that keeps the narrative engaging and unpredictable.

"A Short Walk Through a Wide World" is a testament to the power of exploration, self-discovery, and the importance of cherishing the journey itself. With its lyrical prose, captivating protagonist, and imaginative world-building, Douglas Westerbeke's debut novel offers a thought-provoking and enchanting reading experience that will stay with readers long after they've turned the final page.

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Breathtaking, warm, and quite bloodied. This is one of those books that catches in your throat - and I, for one, am glad.

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