Book Review: “Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel” by Jeannette Walls

First of all – I am SO sorry to have neglected this blog for as long as we have. It’s inexcusable, really, but we have been very, very busy. My father retired at the end of September and I spent weeks getting ready to go out to California to help them move, then the actual time there getting them packed (about 2 weeks), then the week driving back, and since then we’ve been getting them settled (driver’s licenses, new doctors, new banks, etc.)…so I’ve let a lot of things slide. Y’all aren’t the only ones I’ve neglected, believe me!

But I DID find time to read this great book, and I highly recommend you do too. Although it’s not technically about horses, horses do figure prominently in the story. It’s the story of the author’s grandmother’s life, told in the first-person. Her name is Lily Casey Smith. She had quite a life, and she thankfully shared stories about it with her family. Ms. Walls and her mother, Lily’s daughter, remembered a lot about Lily’s life, and Ms. Walls created this wonderful book from those stories. She calls it a true-life novel because she couldn’t know everything about her grandmother – e.g., conversations she had with others, her thoughts about events that took place, other little details. But Ms. Walls fills in the gaps beautifully, and wove together a riveting, moving, even inspiring life story that I think her grandmother would be proud of.

What a life Lily lived – she was born in a dirt dugout in West Texas, became an itinerant teacher in Arizona at the age of 15 (riding her horse alone from her home to Arizona), ran a cattle ranch with her husband, survived the Great Depression, raised two children while earning her college degree, learned to fly…and those are just a few of the highlights. Ms. Walls’ writing style really connects the reader with Lily – you feel like you are really hearing Lily’s voice. She was a spunky, no-nonsense character, and I wish I had known her in life – but I’m glad I could meet her in this book.

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