Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Half Broke Horses: a True-Life novel 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.

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. Half Broke Horsesis Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. It will transfix readers everywhere.

272 pages



To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

Video of Jeanette Wells discussing the book.

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