Half Broke Horses: Book Review

Half Broke Horses Book CoverUp for a Book Bite Dessert? Read this book! I had a love/hate opinion of Jeannette Walls’ Glass Castle. Although that book was beautifully written, it was a hard read. The author’s memoir of growing up poor and transient with selfish and unhinged parents was heartbreaking. However, Walls is an excellent writer, so I snatched up her next book, Half Broke Horses, and prepared for an emotionally bumpy ride.
Half Broke Horses is about the adventures of Walls’ maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. To say Smith was a character is like saying horses are large, and that the desert is dry.
“I was born in a dugout on the banks of Salt Draw in 1901, the year after Dad got out of prison, where he’d been serving time on that trumped-up murder charge” is a quote which captures the attitude of Smith–an airplane flying, pearl handle pistol totting lady with clenched fists with a blistering vocabulary.
By the time she was six years old, she was training horses along side her Dad. When she was ten, she saved her younger siblings from a flash flood by keeping them in a tree all night long. At age fifteen, Smith rode five hundred miles west, by herself, for a teaching position in a one-room schoolhouse where she slept on the floor. Story after story makes up this amusing and intriguing 270 paged book.
Because I had read Glass Castle first, it was fun pinpointing references and knowing what was coming around the bend (in the future) while experiencing the past. Although written in the first person, Walls admits that the book is a compilation of stories that her mother told her as well as a few from Walls’ memory and thus it cannot be called a memoir. Still, it was written as such and was an enjoyable way to spend some time. I loved this book. I was inspired, tickled, and entrenched in the world of a true woman of the Frontier. I bet you will be, too.

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