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Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novelby Jeannette Walls
Lily Casey Smith is a woman who won't take no for an answer if there's any way around it. She embarks on journeys and has experiences that only someone with iron-willed character could survive: As a child, she gets her young siblings up a cottonwood tree just before a flash flood thunders through, and keeps them clinging through the night till the waters recede; at age 15, she travels alone, on a pony, from her home in New Mexico to a teaching job in Arizona; and she moves to Chicago as a young woman without even a high school diploma. Half Broke Horses gives us Lily's life as a series of vignettes. This is old-fashioned storytelling, and reading it feels very much like sitting at a grandparent's knee. What is missing in terms of a psychological portrait of the character is made up for by the astonishing life of this spunky, independent, resourceful woman. Lily flourishes, living life on her own terms. She's a delight.
Synopses & Reviews
“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, 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, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane. And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one who is Jeannette’s memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.
Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds — against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.
"Jeannette Walls...once again proves that the combination of gifted storyteller with great stories is both rare and intoxicating." The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[An] eloquent tribute to a pragmatic heroine....A powerhouse — fast-moving, fearless and impossible to forget." People
[Jeannette Walls is] the third generation of a line of indomitable women whose paths she has inscribed on the permanent record, enriching the common legend of our American past." New York Times Book Review
Walls reimagines the life of her grandmother, Lily Casey, who by age six was helping her father break horses. At 15, she left home to teach in a frontier town — riding 500 miles on her pony to get to her post. She learned to drive a car, fly a plane, and with her husband, managed a vast ranch in Arizona, surviving tornadoes, droughts, floods, and the Great Depression.
From the author of The Glass Castle, a spellbinding true-life novel about Walls' grandmother — horse trainer, teacher, flapper, rancher, and pilot.
About the Author
Jeannette Walls graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than six years. She is also the author of the instant New York Times bestsellers, The Silver Star and Half Broke Horses, which was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Walls lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.
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