Within the context of a fast-moving adventure story, Footsteps treats age-old questions of friendship, loyalty, honesty, and trust. Amidst a variety of unusual characters and settings, the novel introduces a likable young hero, William Jones, whose strengths and weaknesses make him a well-rounded, believable character. Humorous touches, suspenseful situations, and surprising plot twists abound.
Although the locales and situations in which William finds himself are far removed from the life of the modern-day American reader, the knowledge he gains about people through his experiences is universal and timeless. The book shows, without preaching or moralizing, that one should greet new acquaintances with healthy skepticism, especially those who seem too eager to help a stranger. While the novel illustrates that people should not be taken at face value, it also says that true friends can be found and are worthy of loyalty.
This book gives an entertaining look into the world of eighteenth-century England from a young person's point of view. Garfield's knowledge of the time period is obviously extensive, and he presents historical details in a way that adds to the excitement of the story.