Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.
“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, 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, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane. And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one who 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. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.
For the first 10 years of her life, Lily Casey Smith, the narrator of this true-life novel by her granddaughter, Walls, lived in a dirt dugout in west Texas. Walls, whose megaselling memoir, The Glass Castle, recalled her own upbringing, writes in what she recalls as Lily s plainspoken voice, whose recital provides plenty of drama and suspense as she ricochets from one challenge to another. Having been educated in fits and starts because of her parents penury, Lily becomes a teacher at age 15 in a remote frontier town she reaches after a solo 28-day ride. Marriage to a bigamist almost saps her spirit, but later she weds a rancher with whom she shares two children and a strain of plucky resilience. (They sell bootleg liquor during Prohibition, hiding the bottles under a baby s crib.) Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and fearless breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player. Assailed by flash floods, tornados and droughts, Lily never gets far from hardscrabble drudgery in several states New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois but hers is one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women that will always find an audience.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Half Broke Horses
This book was just as good as the Glass Castle.... I couldn't put it down!! It was a little slow in some parts... But other than that.. I loved it and highly recommend it!!!
I was hooked!
I absolutely loved Walls's first novel, yet I was hesitant to pick this one up. I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn't wait to read about each adventure because I fell in love with the main character. It was hard to finish knowing the story would be over.
My take on Half Broke Horses
Half Broke Horses was an emotionally captivating book that allows your mind to wonder deeply into uncharted territory until the slightest evidence of empathy is discovered then harnessed! The readability of this novel is evident through and through and regardless of your background and economic status, it remains powerful and uplifting with just the right amount of hilarity. Lily Casey Smith is an utter riot and you can't help but feel that either you know her, have someone like her in your life just like her or you are dying to get to know someone of her caliber! Must read!!! Lastly.. it was quite helpful for me as a reader having read The Glass Castle first.