Half Broke Horses (Audiobook: by Jeanette Walls ) c. 2009

Summary: Told in the first person voice of the authors grandmother, this ‘true life novel’ tells the story of Lily Casey Smith. Born in Arizona, Lily learned to drive a car, fly an airplane, ran a sprawling ranch with her husband Jim and survived tornadoes, droughts and the Great Depression.

Review: This is a good book no matter the format, but it is particularly good on audio. The author, who reads the book, brings Lily’s gumption and winning personality to life in mesmerizing fashion. At points it’s possible to quibble with the author’s interpretation of events (as she notes in her epilogue, research is not always clear about what happened in some of the events Lily and her family got caught up in), and the Epilogue get’s a touch heavy on the self-praise. Reader’s who have also read The Glass Castle, about the author’s parents, may also notice some eery similarities in the personalities of her great-grandparents. Ultimately, though, the book is thoroughly entertaining (though Lily is not always 100% likeable) and these are just small quibbles. And, hey, ‘true-life’ or not, it’s still a novel — there’s a bit of creative license that goes with that.

Read-a-likes: Readers who enjoy Half Broke Horses should also pick-up Walls’ biography, The Glass Castle. Two other fiction titles that are similarly biographical (true-life or not) in their outlook, would be Plainsong by Kent Haruf and The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig. Both are set in the west. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan and A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer are worthwhile nonfiction titles that might grab you.

Availability: This book is available at the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book and audiobook. Click here to check on the availability!

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