#BookReview A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke @SimonSchusterCA #AShortWalkThroughAWideWorld #DouglasWesterbeke #SimonSchusterCA Title: A Short Walk Through a Wide World

Author: Douglas Westerbeke

Published by: Simon & Schuster Canada on Apr. 2, 2024

Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue meets Life of Pi in this 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.


Poignant, hopeful, and creative!

A Short Walk Through a Wide World is an immersive, evocative tale that sweeps you away to Paris during 1885 and into the life of nine-year-old Aubry Tourvel who, after throwing her beloved wooden puzzle ball into a well, becomes inflicted with a mysterious disease that seems to only be healed by never staying in one place for more than a few days and thus begins a lifetime adventure that sees her looping the globe multiple times while experiencing such wondrous things as fishing in Greece, love on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and the joy of perusing unimaginably vast libraries where time and space don’t even exist in order to stay alive.

The prose is vivid and rich. The characters are vulnerable, conflicted, and burdened. And the plot is a enigmatic, absorbing tale of life, love, loss, family, friendship, self-identity, magical realism, solitude, and joy.

Overall, A Short Walk Through a Wide World is a mystifying, impactful, hopeful debut by Westerbeke that combines a contemplative imagination with the magic of the supernatural to weave a heart-tugging, bittersweet tale steeped in an abundance of loneliness, optimism, tenderness, and pain.


This novel is available now.

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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.


About Douglas Westerbeke

Douglas Westerbeke is a librarian who lives in Ohio and works at one of the largest libraries in the US. He has spent the last decade on the local panel of the International Dublin Literary Award, which inspired him to write his own book.

Photograph by Roan.