Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle was “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly). Now she brings us the story of her grandmother — told in a voice so authentic and compelling that the book is destined to become an instant classic.
“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 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. It will transfix readers everywhere.
About the Author
Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and grew up in the southwest and Welch, West Virginia. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York City for twenty years. Her previous book was the memoir The Glass Castle. She is married to writer John Taylor and lives in Virginia.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Scribner; First Edition, First Printing edition (October 6, 2009)
Half Broke Horses is beautifully written and a pleasure to read. I really wish that this book didn’t have to be termed a “novel” since the author based everything on the truth, but since she wasn’t there when everything took place, this is the best it will get. It is truly one of those books based on simple life experiences that all families have and most of us could find something like it in our own lives. If you enjoy memoirs, then you will probably like this one.