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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 bestselling author of The Hearts of Horses and The Jump-Off Creek, an absorbing, plainspoken, elegantly rendered novel about a young cowboy who escapes a family tragedy and travels to Hollywood to become a stunt rider in the movies
From the author of The Glass Castle, a spellbinding true-life novel about Walls' grandmother — horse trainer, teacher, flapper, rancher, and pilot.
“I read Falling from Horses in two gulps . . . I could not have loved it more.” — Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Bookclub and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
“Clear-eyed, breathtaking . . . A moving story filled with heart and insight.” — Gail Tsukiyama, author of The Samurai’s Garden
“A hypnotic read.” — Kirkus Reviews
In 1938, nineteen-year-old ranch hand Bud Frazer sets out for Hollywood, his sights set on becoming a stunt rider in the movies—and rubbing shoulders with the great screen cowboys of his youth. On the long bus ride south from Echol Creek, Bud meets a young woman who also harbors dreams of making it in the movies, not as a starlet but as a writer. Lily Shaw is bold and outspoken, more confident than her small frame and bookish looks seem to allow. The two strike up an unlikely kinship that will carry them through their tumultuous days in Hollywood. Through the wide eyes and lofty dreams of two people trying to make their mark on the world, Molly Gloss weaves a remarkable tale of humans and horses, hope and heartbreak, told by one of the most winning narrators ever to walk off the page.
About the Author
Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and grew up in the southwest and Welch, West Virginia. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York City for twenty years. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for over three years. Walls is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Christopher Award for helping to "affirm the highest values of the human spirit,” as well as the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and the Books for Better Living Award. Walls lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.
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