Book Report: Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

This is my first Book Report entry, and to be honest, I usually don’t read books like this, so we’re starting off with variety.

My usual book tastes favor the classics.  Wuthering Heights is one of my all-time go-to books, as well as To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984 and The Shining.  Any books that play loudly in popular culture references really call to me.

I am also not a Harry Potter nerd.  I am so much more than that.  I may not run a fan message board or go to book releases in capes and wizard hates, but my heart swells for Harry Potter.  I think that series of books evolved like its own species – it began simple, with subtle undertones of true narrative and story development, and then it moved forward as its reader’s grew up, creating a dense, pragmatic storyline.

Maybe that’s why I love the classics – because through the years, they have become more than the words on the page but instead a symbol of their time.  I loved every English class I ever took, and especially loved the parts where you read a book and simultaneously researched the historical events surrounding its creation, as well as the personality and, sometimes, private lives of the authors.  These things mattered to me, and every time I learn a new detail about the book, but not explicitly in the book, and maybe even read an especially delicious piece of paragraph, I imagine the writer committing those words to their tale.

I don’t draw, I don’t paint, I don’t sculpt, and I do not create music.  But I write, and I get it.

When you hear about a book set during the Depression in Arizona, you think Grapes of Wrath and the Okies traveling to California to pick fruit for a living.

The heroine in Half Broke Horses could have been this woman…

Instead, she kept her nose to the grindstone and worked for ignorant people, and kept her eyes to the ground while she was swindled and screwed over time and time again.

But damn she endured, and even though the book is a novel, the author wrote it about her grandmother.

Lily Casey was a teacher, a rancher, a mother, a wife, a sister, and a daughter.  She worked on the ranch with her husband while teaching kids of polygamists and any other people with children willing to live in the dusty Arizona arena where work was scarce but development and change and the new world couldn’t catch them.  When it did, Lily was ready, ready to fly a plane and drive a car and make it through the hard times with something to count on.

I’m not usually one for light books, but this is a great, quick, and informative read.


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