Monday, August 21, 2017

Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

Half Broke Horses; A True-Life Novel
Welcome to the book review of Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls. The thing is, I haven't completed the book, so can I really consider this a review?  I'm not sure. What I am sure about, this is one of those stories that is painted so vividly that you don't want to put the book down. It is one of those stories that as soon as you begin, you want to start asking folks if they've read this book. And if they say no, you want to tell them to start. That's what this book review is about. To encourage you to sit down and meet Lily Casey Smith.


Why I Chose Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel 


I have a long list of books that are yet unread in my Kindle. There are so many books and so little free time. So why would I add yet another book to that list?  What would cause me to start a book that I hadn't even considered previously?

I was in the process of packing for my most recent camping trip and there was a commercial on the television about a soon-to-be-released movie titled The Glass Castle. The commercial went on describing the movie that is based on the best selling book by Jeannette Walls and so on and so forth.  So I stopped what I was doing an did a quick internet search to find out what all the hub-bub was about.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir is written by Jeannette Walls and has been "more than seven years on the New York Times Best Seller list". Some of my favorite books have never been, to my knowledge, on the New York Times best seller list. So that information does not guarantee that I'll purchase the book. I read the Amazon reviews and considered. Unfortunately, I really don't care for spending over $10 for a digital copy of a book so I did not click the "buy now" button.

However, I went on to look at the other books Ms. Walls had written. Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel is advertised as "Laura Ingalls for adults" and that appealed to me. I read the "look inside" excerpt and was hooked. 

This story is about Ms. Walls' grandmother's life. The life of Lily Casey Smith. Ms. Lily began in Texas. Helping to break horses and raise her siblings. Flash floods, broken bones, and tornadoes were not unexpected parts of her children. Her father, gimpy, with a speech impediment, and a quick temper depended on her to help on the ranch. Her mother, a delicate and proper woman who was prone to fainting spells. Likely due to the tightness of her corset.  As Lily became older (a whopping 15 years old), she left the nest by teaching in frontier towns over 500 miles away from home. She filled the teacher vacancies the war created at these small town schools. However, the war ended and the teachers returned. Ms. Lily was forced to return home. 

As I said, I'm only halfway through the book and after her teaching stint, I've accompanied Ms. Lily to Chicago, have witnessed the impact of the growing ownership of cars by the public, and have seen her struggle with her mother's constant warnings of becoming a spinster. However, I believe that particular disaster is about to be avoided. Honestly this time. And just as she seems to be falling in love with a decent man, I understand that the Great Depression is looming on the horizon. I am anxious to witness how Ms. Lily navigates this true disaster.

I am glad to be reading the story of Lily Casey Smith before considering reading the memoir of Ms. Walls' life. I am also very glad to be reading this before watching the movie. If you think you'd enjoy a not-so-sweet adult version of Little House on the Prairie, you ought to take a peek at Half-Broke Horses. Not that I'm speaking poorly of the Little House series. I was a huge fan. But where Nellie was the anomaly, it seems the Nellie-like characters are the norm in Ms. Lily's life. 


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The contributors on Review This! love to read. We enjoy a wide variety of genres. For the complete list of our book reviews click the site directory here.

The last book (series) I read that grabbed my attention and imagination like this was the Refined By Love series by Judith Miller. I could not put those books down! Rather than doze off after a chapter or two, I stayed awake, neglect housework, and devoured the three books in the series. For more details, see the review of The Brickmaker's Bride which is the first in that series.



I seem to currently be in the mood for stories of a certain time period in the earlier history of the United States. If you prefer more current memoirs and/or heartfelt stories involving dogs, check out Renaissance Woman's book review of Will's Red Coat. This is definitely one of those books on my to-read list, as soon as I come out of this historical mode. 






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8 comments:

  1. I'm attracted to the picture on the front of the book as much as anything. It reminds me of pictures of my parents' growing-up years. Sounds like a great read, especially for those interested in that early 20th century time frame.

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  2. Very interesting comparison! I think most of us have more Nellies in our lives than the sweet characters in the Little House on the Prairie series. Therefore, this series sounds more realistic to me. Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I have always preferred learning with a great story wrapped around it. Like you, I have a kindle-full of unread books, but this one very much makes me want to overlook the rest a little longer and read it next. Thank you for including the review of the series by Judith Miller too. Truly the best series I have read in years.

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  3. We read Gss Castle for book club and it was a great book for a discussion. I'll have to try this book. I like the way Jeannette Wall.

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  4. Ok, you've convinced me...I need to get this book on my kindle! I've been looking for my next great read. Thanks for a great review.

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  5. Another wonderful book review, Dawn Rae. I love how the Review This contributors find such interesting books to tell us about ~ many of which I would have completely missed if not for these reviews. Thanks so much.

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  6. Because of your review, I plan to read this book. I like an unconventional review. You have just shown us that it isn't necessary to wait until "The End" to deliver a convincing review that compels others to begin. Thanks for including a link to my review of Will's Red Coat. Appreciated!

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  7. Oh dear, what will I do? If you know me,then you know there's another book being added to my Kindle as we speak.....now I need to find the time for all these stories. I have 4 on the go right now so I guess I better finish one and then start on this one. Otherwise my brain will be so confused. Thanks for a great review.

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  8. Half Broke Horses, well another added to the list! I'll have to pass it along to a few people I know who would appreciate it like I would. Thanks for the review and the heads-up - would never have known about it if it wasn't for your review.

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