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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Half Broke Horses

Half Broke Horses
by Jeannette Walls
audio book: 8 hours

I "met" Jeannette through her memoir THE GLASS CASTLE which I read with my book club in 2008. This book is basically a prequel to that one, in that it is the story of her grandmother and (partially) of her mother. If you've read THE GLASS CASTLE then you know that Jeannette's mother was one odd bird; this book goes a long way to explain that oddness.

Lily Casey Smith, grandmother to Jeannette, was born in a dugout home on a Texas riverfront. She left home at age 15 to be a school teacher during World War I. Her life was was fascinating, although not always easy, and she had to work for everything she had. I won't tell you much more than that as it would spoil the fun of reading it for you.

Jeannette calls this a "true-life novel" because it is based on family stories that were passed down from her grandmother to her mother and then to her. Some of the stories can be verified but others cannot. Jeannette had to fill in the blanks in places, and she also told the story from Lily's point of view so there were obviously some liberties taken (since Lily died when Jeannette was only 8 yrs old). The story has the ring of truth to it though, as all good family stories do.

I had a hard time getting into this book at first. Unlike THE GLASS CASTLE, it didn't grab me from the beginning. Once Lily left home however, I was really into the story. And once her daughter Rosemary was born (that's Jeannette's mother), I couldn't take my ear away from the radio; I wanted to know everything I could about how she came to be the woman she was.

In the end, I'd say that if you enjoyed THE GLASS CASTLE, you will likely enjoy this book as well so do give it a shot.

Oh, and it is narrated by the author. She does a good job of it, but personally I'm not a fan of her accent. I do like it when authors narrate their own books though, especially when they are of the true-life variety, so I didn't let the accent get to me.

(This book counts toward the Library and Audiobook challenges.)


bermudaonion said...

You're not the first person to say this book starts out slow. I'm still anxious to read it.

Florinda said...

What Kathy said :-). I'll probably wait for the paperback, but I'm pretty sure I'll read this one eventually - there's a lot of goodwill left from The Glass Castle.

softdrink said...

I loved The Glass Castle, so this one will be read one of these days.

Michelle said...

I've been meaning to read The Glass Castle for a while now. I think I'm going to have to move it up on the TBR pile so that I can add this one!

Lisa said...

I've yet to get to The Glass Castle. Guess I'll read that first even if this is prequel of sorts.

Rebecca Reid said...

I LOVED the Glass Castle so I've been interested in reading this one. Sounds good, even if it's hard to get into!

Heather J. said...

bermudaonion & Florinda - It DOES start out slow, but it is still a good book - definitely do read it!

softdrink - It sheds a lot of light on the events of THE GLASS CASTLE, that's for sure.

Michelle & Lisa - THE GLASS CASTLE is an amazing book, one that will stay with you for a very long time. It is a must-read!

Rebecca - If you liked TGC then you will really appreciate this book - I did. :)

ANovelMenagerie said...

I read this on my Kindle - half read, half listened. I reviewed it, as well. You're right, it doesn't grab you at the beginning like The Glass Castle. But, I did like some of the stories like her hiding the booze under the crib.

Kailana said...

I am waiting for this to come in for me at the library. I liked The Glass Castles so I have hopes it will be good.

Trisha said...

The Glass Castle is on my TBR list. I'm wondering if you think I should read this one first or TGC first?

Zoe said...

Thanks for the review.

Freedom Debt Reviews

Heather J. said...

ANovelMenagerie - I saw your review and I think we pretty much agree on this one!

Kailana - It is worth the read, just not as good as TGC.

Trisha - DEFINITELY read TGC first - it won't make sense otherwise.

Zoe - Thanks for coming by.

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

I liked both of these books very much... a very distinctive writing style! Thanks for bring them to our attention!

Bill ;-)

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway:

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