Apr 1, 2010

Review | Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town -- riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane, and, with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.

Thoughts: To be honest, I wasn't too happy about starting this book. The only reason I even considered picking it up was because of the book club I had just joined, the Slow Readers Book Club, and this was the first book we were to read and review.

Around two days before it was due at the library, I finally decided to crack it open and give it a try. The first few pages were interesting but I'm not too sure if I would've really read on if I hadn't gotten sick that weekend. I was in bed for a couple of days and of course I was taking advantage of the time I had in between naps to read, and that was when this book finally drew me in.

I was suprised at how quickly I got into this book, but from the moment I picked it up, I could no longer put it down. I finished the first half in one sitting and the next day, I finished the rest. Although not told by Lily herself, her grand-daughter, Jeannette Walls was able to tell the story amazingly like if she lived it with wonderful details and each chapter feeling like a short anectode.

I really liked Lily, she was a strong, independent woman who endured a lot and never gave up on her dreams. She was such a great person to read about. I really loved Walls writing and I definitely want to pick up her other novel, The Glass Castle, which is about her mother.

I hadn't read an adult novel in a while before reading this, sticking to YA mostly, so this was a nice refreshing change. I definitely recommend this book to everyone, it is a great novel.

Favorite Line: "'I'm okay,' I said. 'I used to break horses. One thing I know how to do is take a fall.'"

This book was provided by the local library.


  1. I read The Glass Castle a couple years ago, and *loved* it. It was such a heartbreaking story, but very well written and engrossing. I've been hesitant about picking this one up, because I wasn't sure it could live up to The Glass Castle. After reading your review, I'm definitely to give Half Broke Horses a shot!

  2. Very nice review =) I love when a book that is iffy ends up being really good. Your review has piqued my interest- I might have to look into now. Thanks dear!

  3. The cover,to be true,doesn't look appealing at all. But I will definitely check out the book since you praise it so much :)