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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  100 reviews
An unforgettable story of men and horses, the American West, and the dream of a ticket out
* A May 2012 Indie Next Pick *

Will Testerman is a young Wyoming horse trainer determined to make something of himself. Money is tight at the family ranch, where he's living again after a disastrous end to his job on the Texas show-horse circuit. He sees his chance with a beautiful
Hardcover, 251 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Graywolf Press (first published May 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,102)
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Anastasia Hobbet
I know from reading Alyson Hagy in the past--following her developing career, in fact--that her books are not to be missed. Fundamentally, she's a poet who writes novels: her thoughtful, penetrating, crystalline images are to be savored. This is not a book to rush through, looking for a thrill, with an eye on The Plot. There is a plot (what a plodding word that is), and a forward momentum to the story, but the deepest rewards for the reader are moment by moment, as Will moves through his days an ...more
Horse people are in some ways crazy........I can say that as I used to be one. Horse people can also be the most down to earth, self connected, rooted, salt of the earth beings. This book highlights both sides of that coin. It's NOT solely a book about horses, or the vivid western landscapes, or the cowboys that mingle the animals and that landscape into everyday lives that most of us think only exist in movies.

The story also attempts to describe the crossroads moments we all face when trying t
Looking for a wonderfully well-written, delicately drawn book that perfectly captures the atmosphere of horse culture and Wyoming? Well, here it is. I picked this book up because it was recommended by the New York Times, because there was a horse on the cover. (Not my most sophisticated decision ever), and because I was looking for something absorbing to read on the beach.

It took me a while to get into it at first because of the very simple sentence structure. There are very few complex or compo
I've read many coming-of-age love stories, but this is one of the best yet -- and not even romantic. Will Testerman, a young man just settling into his manhood, loves his horse and his mom, and author Alyson Hagy makes these relationships so real, so primary, that there's no whiff of cliché anywhere. Loss defines us, as the saying goes, and hard times grow us up, and Boleto is a gorgeous rumination on just that, with some fine writing helping it along. Definitely recommended.
Gerri Leen
You know that old saying "Still waters run deep"? Well, sometimes water is still because it's a damn mud puddle. That's our protagonist in this book. Will Testerman. Cowboy. Moron. Misogynist. Supposed horse whisperer. Possibly a murderer--I was really hoping for that, but that could be just because he reminded me so much of Edward Norton in Down in the Valley or Eddie Redmayne in Hick--but that alas is not addressed in the book.

The prose is written with no quotation marks, which didn't annoy me
This book rambles a bit like the landscape that nurtured it. Part I takes place on Will Testerman's home turf, where he has a reputation to live up to or live down, depending upon how you look at it. He's a quiet, introspective, young man...traits which set him apart from his brothers and Wyoming cohorts. It is that quiet manner, though, that allows him to slip deftly into the head of the horses in his care. We learn that he stood quietly and solidly behind his mother as she battled cancer and t ...more
Boleto is divided into three parts. I think that each part has the potential to be a really good story and that all three parts could be connected to make an incredible novel. As it is, I felt unfulfilled by each story and the book as a whole was weakened by the connections that weren't made.

The synopsis tells us that this is more than just the story of a man and a horse. While this is true, I feel as though the scenes with Boleto, as she comes to be called, are very short and not very interesti
I gave this book 4.15/5 stars at

Review excerpt:

"Hagy did something else that I found very impressive: she wrote about the business of, uh, horsery (that’s totally a word isn’t it? No? Well, it is now) without boring me to death. Despite my love of Cormac McCarthy, I may be the only person from Kentucky who isn’t a sucker for a good horse story. Remember the movie Seabiscuit? Well, I don’t, because I never saw it. I’m generally that disinterested in horses. Hagy used char
Laura Neu
I had a really hard time giving this book a star rating. Do I rate on quality of writing or entertainment value? Do I rate on my own level of entertainment or its potential to entertain? I guess the point of this rambling is to give no weight to whatever star rating I give, if I give one at all.
Let's start off by saying that Alyson Hagy is a great writer and from a writers perspective, there is much to be learned from this novel. That said, this book is not at all my style of story. I found it e
If I could, I would give this 3.5 stars, only because the story, as divided into three parts, leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Not that everything in a book needs to be neatly tied up, but I really wanted to know what happened to some of the characters who just (literally) disappeared. That said, the simple sentences sing and descriptions shimmer in short bursts of prose. Hagy made the horse world fascinating. She also navigates the line between those stories that unrealistically glorify an ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The first two parts of the book were engaging. The main character, Will, was believable, likable and I enjoyed the way he worked with the horse. The last part was disappointing and I felt it knocked the ground out of all that had been built up earlier. He basically abandoned his horse, made decisions that seemed out of character and destroyed all that he had been working for with no really good reason. There were clearly less dramatic resolutions to his problems but he didn't even try to behave ...more
This is a Western in the best sense of the word. There are horses and horse training and horse people. There is a young man learning about himself in a world filled with both honesty and deceit, laughter and heartache, good and evil. And there are sentences describing both the beauty and brutality of the western landscape that took my breath away, and made me stop to savor them. Alyson Hagy is a very good writer, and I truly enjoyed this book.
Loved it. Not just because I love horses. And the horse on the cover looks like my horse. (well maybe it is actually a 4.5 star book and those things made me round up to 5 star. That's possible)

Really nice writer. Good story. Love the conept of boleto (spanish for ticket) Can see this being added to high school curricula, a la The Red Pony.
Will Testerman is a Wyoming horse trainer determined to make something of himself after an end to his job on the Texas show-horse circuit. He sees his chance with a beautiful quarter horse, a filly that might earn him a reputation. He devotes himself to her training—first, in the familiar barns and corrals of home, then on a guest ranch in the rugged Absaroka mountains, and, in the final trial, on the glittering, treacherous polo fields of southern California. Sounds a lot better than it is. I l ...more
Karen Hrdlicka
I found this book to be beautifully written. I did have some qualms about the author's lack of quotation marks with the dialogue. It took me about forty pages to become fully comfortable with that choice. I emailed Ms Hagy and found her reasoning quite refreshing. The main character is a simple, almost austere man and the lack of punctuation artistically portrays that. The story is essentially about a man and his dream. The horse is a means to an end. I did have a couple of unanswered questions ...more
Stephanie A.
I loved the first two-thirds and how they transported me to the lonely Wyoming country, where I actually wasn't sure for a while which decade we were in because ranch life has such a sense of timelessness. Good horse scenes and great depictions of working in several very different horse-related businesses, my favorite by far being his summer at a dude ranch.

What I didn't like were the graphic scenes, however brief, the lack of quotation marks for dialogue, and the last part in California, where
Mark Bailey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny Shank

A cowboy, his talents and his horses combine to form Alyson Hagy's newest novel 'Boleto'

By JENNY SHANK Special Contributor
Published: 01 June 2012 04:34 PM

In her wise new novel Boleto, Alyson Hagy follows modern-day Wyoming cowboy Will Testerman on his simple quest: to make his way in the world through his gift for working with horses, and to prove he can spot raw talent by training a quarter horse, bought cheap, into a polo pony he can
Betsy Ashton
You do not have to love the American West, horses and the men who love them to recognize what a great book Boleto is. Written in a literary style that is both rich and simple at the same time, the story is that of a man and a horse, both young and untested.

Will Testerman grew up on a ranch in Wyoming amid tough winters and even tougher horses. He buys the best filly he's ever seen with the idea he will train her to be a polo pony. He knows nothing about the sport, yet he recognizes potential whe
A few years ago when Brokeback Mountain came out, my friend and I, just out of high school, went to see it in the theaters. Envisioning it as an interesting and society-changing intellectual film, we were amused to find that the theater was packed with middle aged ladies hot for some dirty cowboy-on-cowboy action. That was perhaps the first time I learned that middle aged ladies are horny, horny, cowboy obsessed people. This book exemplifies this truth once again. I thought it was going to be ab ...more
I would have never picked this book to read. It was a choice from my husband who bought at a book fair. I have never had a particular affinity for horses or ranching. However, I'm so glad that he pushed me out of my comfort zone and got me this book. I love the way that the author captures the slow routine and culture of the small town ranching life. It seems engrained in her very writing, which is pleasant to experience. I enjoyed catching a glimpse into this world of horse training. I have jus ...more
Hagy is a talented writer with a particularly seamless and beautiful way with words. She can tell a story, and tell it well. In Boleto, what I imagine to be the life around raising and training horses is vividly, languidly, lavishly laid out before us. Now, I do not know much about horses or Wyoming or people who breed/raise/train/buy/sell/race/ride horses, so I cannot say one way or another if Hagy's depiction of this life is "realistic," per se. But who cares? Painted with infinitely fine deta ...more
Will Testerman wants more than his older brothers, more than his father, working a full-time job on top of keeping up his small ranch. He buys a beautiful little filly that he plans to train, in the hopes that she could be his ticket out of Wyoming.

And she is, as he moves to California in the fall, after working on a guest ranch all summer, to learn about training polo ponies. Meanwhile, Will learns about who he is, what he stands for, what is important in life, and what he's willing to sacrific
Kat Warren
There are two issues that, depending on the reader's veiwpoint, could cloud the book:

1) the horse thing. Yes, there are horses in this novel and they are mighty important. So, does that make this a "horse book?" If I say yae, then hoards of folk won't read it. If I say nae, then horse folk won't read it. And you'd all be up the creek without a paddle because you will have missed a glorious novel that defies labels such as "horsey" or "about the West."

2) Right here, folks, we've got a woman write
It sounded like a book I might like - horses, quiet cowboys, family relationships. Despite the fact that the sentence structure is all the same, I was hoping it was just a style of characterization. The description of the filly is wonderful. And then, because apparently we all are still adolescents with a strong desire for titillation, we get the unnecessarily graphic sex scene. Skipped over that, but after flipping through the rest of the book -- naah, not worth it.
Boleto is a beautifully-written "Western." I put Western in quotation marks because I don't want to pigeonhole this book as a kind of swashbuckling cowboy western, which tends to be my first thought when somebody says "it's a Western" -- but still, it is a book about horses and the American West. Specifically, it's about a young horse trainer named Will Testerman and his dream of training the perfect horse, and a story that takes us from the mountains of Wyoming to the polo fields of southern Ca ...more
Lynn Dolven
This story was very appealing to me having grown up in the West and having owned and cared for horses. In the main character of Will, the author captured the focus and patience that is required to care for animals. She also created a parallel universe with broader familiarity by having Will care for his mother who has cancer. The story also illustrates how the business of keeping animals has emotional consequences both between the owner and the animal and the owner and others. The voice of the b ...more
Sarah Kennedy
The writing in this novel is wonderful and kept me reading. Metaphors are lovely and the characters finely drawn. I wish it had more of a story, though. The three sections felt like three anecdotes--connected but not adding up to a full narrative.
Jeri Parker
Alyson Hagy's Boleto is spare and graceful. Perfectly paced, beautifully constructed, its horse and horseman take you heart and soul to an illuminating and wrenching and almost bewildering finish--just bewildering enough that you'll be thinking about it for a long long time.
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Alyson Hagy, a novelist and short story writer, was raised on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and now lives and teaches in Laramie, Wyoming.
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“I think a person who wants too much is asking to be disappointed.... I'd like to be good at just one thing.” 3 likes
“Risky is not the same as crazy. Failing is not the same as being worthless.” 2 likes
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