"Half-Broke Horses"

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

This is the second book by this authour that I've read, the first being "The Glass Castle" which impressed me so much I put it on my list of "best books ever". This one was also good, but for me it doesn't come close to the other one.

This book is the story of Jeannette's grandmother, Lily, a tough, feisty woman who never let anything get in the way of what she wanted out of life. She grew up in the western US in the early 1900s and her life was anything but easy as she and her family tried to make a living on a cattle ranch. She learned to work hard and take care of herself and when life knocked her down, she got up, dusted herself off and moved on.

The story is told in the first person from Lily's point of view, though the authour's source of information was Lily's daughter, Rosemary (Jeannette's mother), and not Lily herself. Because of that she calls this a "true-life novel" rather than a biography or memoir. I don't think I'll be shelving it with fiction though. Having read "The Glass Castle" and met some of this book's characters in that, I definitely see it as a memoir.

Jeanette Walls is an excellent story teller. She can bring people to life and make them so vivid that you never forget them and her great writing keeps the story moving along and has, on occasion,  made me forget to stop reading and go to bed. I thoroughly enjoy reading her work and I hope there will be a lot more of it.

 From what I've read about this book on other blogs the majority of readers finish the book impressed with Lily's grit and head-on way of dealing with life. I, too, can admire her, but from a distance. I don't think she and I would ever have been friends because she intimidates the heck out of me. She's so confident and capable and brave, all things I want to be but, alas, am not. She had some pretty good theories about life though and at times showed real wisdom. My favourite quote is "When someone's wounded, the first order of business is to stop the bleeding. You can figure out later how best to help them heal."

I read this mostly because "The Glass Castle" got to me in a very personal way and I wanted to know more about Jeannette's background so I could try to understand some things. Well, that and my book club chose it for July's selection. I'm glad I read it. It did shed more light on Jeannette's family history and what made her mother (Rosemary) the very unique woman, and incredibly strange mother, that she is.

I recommend this authour highly. I think anyone who appreciates a good story would enjoy "Half Broke Horses" as well as "The Glass Castle".


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