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Blind Your Ponies

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,352 ratings  ·  519 reviews
Willow Creek, Montana. With bold strokes on a large canvas, Stanley West has drawn an entire village of curious and outlandish characters who have been cast so vividly that one can see them, hear them, laugh with them, feel with them - people as real as relatives.

When Sam Pickett comes to the quiet little village to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered hi
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Paperback, 574 pages
Published December 3rd 2005 by Lexington Marshall Pub (first published January 10th 2001)
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Best Montana Books
11th out of 143 books — 97 voters
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Best Books with Rural Settings
469th out of 875 books — 847 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lewestover
For a story that moves along relatively slowly much of the time, "Blind Your Ponies" really pulled me into the lives of the people of Willow Creek, MT. I found myself crying at the end.
Two underlying themes stood out: first, everyone has demons/burdens to deal with that few others are aware of; second, everyone is desperate to believe that there is hope for something better and that he/she is important and can make a difference in this life. I believe I will look differently at the people aroun
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William Bentrim
Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West

I don’t gush much in my writing. This is one of the best books I have ever read. How’s that for gushing? I am well read, several books a week for 60 years or so. That doesn’t make me an expert or a critic, I just “calls them the way I see them”. This book isn’t about ponies, or Montana and it isn’t just a “feel good” book that was disparagingly ascribed to it in one review. It is a book about the indomitable, unquenchable human spirit and revolves around a
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Nancy Martira
I don't remember how I heard about this book, but I suspect if it hadn't been Kindle-lending enabled, I probably wouldn't have read it. I'm glad I did; this is a solid novel that at times you'll struggle to characterize as a sports novel, a romance, a character study of the American West. Well, I skimmed through some of the sports writing, and I found some of the romance overwrought, but the characters were compelling enough to keep me reading. Although everything ends predictably neat and tidy, ...more
Pat
May 03, 2012 Pat rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Outside of basketball freaks, very few people ...
Wow, so none of the other reviewers noticed how appallingly badly writtten this book is? No one noticed the flat-out mispellings and at least six homonym errors? No one else was off-put by his laughable similes and purple prose? No one else smirked at how cardboard and overly melodramatic the characters are? No one else thought, "Jeez, this book is about 100 pages too long!"?

That said, I have to admit that, like everyone else, I WAS kinda drawn into the sappy plot--even though I was tempted to j
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Molly
West has heart, it is true, and this feel-good book fails to mention on its attractive back cover that it is about a failing basketball team, so when I looked at the gorgeous cover and (gasp!), judged it, I mistakenly thought I'd be in Proulx's world of the west. Instead, I was struggling through embarrassingly awkward metaphors and trite writing and stereotypical paper doll characters who you keep hoping won't speak quite so unrealistically and the same basketball game over-and-over-and-over ag ...more
Donna
I loved this book. I listened to the audio version. I heard the written version is full of misspellings and horrific grammar, which would have bugged me more than I would probably like to admit. This was a feel-good, Cinderella type, root-for-the-underdogs book. I love it when a book is so much more than just a story. But really could there not have been a better title for this book. I mean really?!!!!

It plugged along quietly but vividly. I felt the author nailed human nature, both the good and
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Emily
If you have ever wanted a picture into life in southwestern Montana, this book captures our diverse county pretty accurately. It follows one rural high school's basketball team to the state finals. As a community, we are reading this book as we get ready to have our own Class C high school open next year. Five member basketball teams. Eight person football. The rules are different but everyone gets to play.
Jeff
This is one of the best books I have read in ten years. It is set in Willow Creek, Montana, which is a real place, but the rest of the story is fiction.

The book opens violently. Read past that part. It continues to be slow for the first 100 pages due to the fact that there is a long exposition to introduce all of the characters and give the background of the social situation and dynamics of the characters in Willow Creek.

The plot line follows the year of an improbable basketball season with im
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Cathrine McLaren
Oh my goodness! This was a book club selection for a newly formed book club, and I was absolutely stunned by the reviews and ratings after starting the book. Maybe it was just my personal sensibility but even though the story line was uplifting, the prose was awkward and the effort was so apparent and was distracting to the degree that I nearly gave up on this book. I trudged on, as did the author, to the improbable ending. Mr. West's use of often bizarre metaphor and simile was so unfortunate. ...more
Nancygoodman
Jul 07, 2011 Nancygoodman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Montana or basketball.
Recommended to Nancygoodman by: Robyn Arguellas
I was particularly interested in reading this story because my grandsons play basketball in Ennis, Montana and compete against a team that is now Harrison/Willow Creek who are still 20 years afer the time of this amazing story, a very aggressive and competitive team and awesome opponent. I wanted to see what drives these six boys to succeed.

Stanley West did a beautiful job of developing the character of each of the basketball players and the coach, but went much further to develop the character
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Nancy
My take: This one was a sleeper. Never saw it coming.

I was surprised this book was about a small town basketball team. Only it's really not. That's only the cover story. It's kind of like Hoosiers. Only it's not. It's really about heartbreak and heartache, pride and redemption, regret, humor, and most of all relationships and hope.

The characters and the town are completely believable and realistic. If you don't believe there's a school small enough to barely scare up a basketball team, you've n
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Christy
Montana will always have a special place in my heart and this novel now does as well. Based around the happenings of a small town in Montana, this novel brings to life the unique community and relationships between individuals that can only be found in a one-horse-town. The story revolves around a young teacher who coaches the school's boys basketball team...a noble endeavor since the team has not had a winning season in decades. Through the course of the season, you are given and amazing insigh ...more
Nicole
I am writing this from a little more than halfway through the book...

The ideas behind the book had some promise -- the focus on sadness, grief, and tragic circumstances, and how people relate to each other in their suffering and continue to hold onto hope despite these things. The teeny Montanan town this book is set in seems to represent both the physical and emotional hiding or escaping people do to get away from the bad events that have happened to them. And the ragtag high school basketball
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Mattea Dean
This novel, by Montana-based author Stanley Gordon West, tells the story of a small-town basketball team and their struggle for even the smallest victory. When a tall exchange student comes to town, coach Sam Pickett hopes to put the town on the map, while at the same time dealing with his feelings for a pretty faculty member at the high school.

Blind Your Ponies is wonderfully written, a true epic of small-town America. West manages to capture both the tragedies in the characters’ pasts as well
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Kristen
1/12/15 - 162 pages in.
This book is not well written; the author is overly fond of similes and metaphors and likes to stack them one atop another until the sentence is as long as a menacing freight train, bearing down threateningly, like a beady-eyed crow watching the meekest of mice, which scuttles and scrabbles in its attempts at brevity. (See, I can do it too! Barf.)

And why does the Norwegian kid talk like Yoda? ALL of his speech is that way. Has the author never heard a non-native English s
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Nici
Based on a true story. If you are froma small town, you will definitely relate to this book. You really get to know the characters and feel like they are sitting in the room with you as you are reading.
Antoinette
Thanks to a friend's recommendation, I picked this book up. What a wonderful underdog story. Small town Willow Creek- not much to root for or to be excited about it seems, till this year. With 2 new additions to their basketball team, they are giving the townspeople a purpose and a new outlook. We meet all these people and learn about them and how they came to Willow Creek. We become invested in these boys, who teach us to work hard and never give up. Their team has not won a game in 5 years- mu ...more
Jill Crosby
I am on page 257, and I am done with this awful book. Apart from being a dead-ringer for a Hallmark Channel miniseries, this baby crawls along at a glacial rate making the reader literally BEG for some kind of plot resolution. Even Tolstoy couldn't (and didn't) hold out on plot advancement as tenaciously as did this book, which couldn't for the life of it decide which metaphor it wanted to adopt--The Crow Indian reference to "blinding your ponies" in an attempt to display hopelessness, or the Do ...more
Melissa
"Blind your ponies" is a phrase taken from a Crow Indian Legend where a last act of desperate bravery sent men to where they wanted to go, to be with who they most wanted to be with. This is just one of many stories and messages that fill this deeply moving novel set in Willow Creek, Montana. You may have heard it's a story about basketball. It is. And it isn't at all. What you have is a microscope on the people of this extraordinary small town. At its focus is Sam Pickett, a high school English ...more
Joan
I loved this book. It is a Hoosier basketball type story which I thought I wouldn't really "get into" but after reading the critiques from 2 of my friends, I relented. It is about a scruffy little team from Montana that hadn't won a game in years. The relationships between the coach, the players and the town's people were heart warming. I really thought the characters were very well defined and I found myself caring about them...all of them, which I usually don't do. It was a book that I didn't ...more
Janet
I am currently reading this. I teach in a small (very) Montana town and was once offered a job in Willow Creek. Having been there, done that, I can appreciate the book. Some of the characters are a little cliche, but I think/hope that is intentional (like in Glee). There is a lot of basketball in the book because the book about a basketball team (among other subjects). This is a story of starting over and leaving history behind. This theme is present in nearly every character--Grandma, Peter, Sa ...more
Christy
3 1/2 stars. It would geta 4 if not for the drawn out nature of the main storyline. Quite a bit could be taken out to condense it and still be able to keep the integrity.

I chose this book initially to branch out from my norm. I am glad I did. I have never read a book about a team before. I enjoyed this one.

The cast of characters is varied and completely lovable. I laughed and cried right along with them. I found myself glued to the edge of my seat as though I were on a bench in the stands.

This
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Joyce
Wish I could have rated this book 4.5 stars! The novel Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West is set in the tiny community of Willow Springs, Montana. The total number of students in the high school is 18. The basketball team has lost 93 games with 0 wins at the beginning of the story. However, a Norwegan foreign-exchange 6'11" student named Olaf Gustafson who comes to Willow Creek for his senior year of high school and another student, Peter Strong, who has been sent to Willow Creek for the y ...more
Drew Danko
The only possible criticism is some might consider this book a bit sappy, but it felt good to me even if it was. I loved everything about the book. The plot revolves around a high school basketball team from a remote town in Montana. They are winless in 93 games and the town is as depressed as the players are. But changes occur that significantly impact the team, the town folk and the main character, their coach who has suffered a staggering loss earlier in his life and has continued to exist mo ...more
Laura de Leon
I asked for suggestions for a book to read at a time when I was feeling out of sorts and having trouble getting into anything. Many books were put forth, several of which had been on my "to read" list for quite a while. None of those called to me, and instead I picked up this new-to-me title. It turned out to be a very good choice.

Blind Your Ponies is a tale of a small town. Almost everyone there has a big story. The adults are almost all there as a reaction to their past. These stories have an
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Jessica
My book club chose this book and this was one of those books I would have probably never picked up otherwise. It actually was pretty good, but VERY long. And if you're not a basketball fan then you would never make it through it. The story focuses on the tiny town of Willow Creek, Montana. Sam Pickett is an English teacher and boys basketball coach, but with such a small school they barely have enough players each year and have NEVER won a game. But, this year will be different with the addition ...more
Coleen
This was a feel-good, root-for-the-underdog kind of book. Reminscent of the movie "Hoosiers", it follows a (VERY) small Montana high school attempting to keep its basketball program alive.

Alas, it's often predictable and was drawn out much longer than it needed to be. While I wouldn't call the writing stellar, and the reader (in the audio edition) was somewhat annoying at times (most often when trying to simulate Dean's freshman, squeaky voice), the characters were memorable & I found mysel
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Ultar6
This book came recommended by a close friend. I didn't get his enthusiasm for it at first - I figured it would just be one of those stories about a sports team that overcame insurmountable odds.

It was far more than that.

How deep the team went into the tournaments was almost superfluous. This is a story of the main characters, and the entire town, transcending their own perceived limitations and learning to just be. The author pulls this off in a believable way. I read this and felt myself rootin
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Makita
This book got better and better the more I turned the pages. It is set in lots of little Montana towns that I drive through every summer, it had basketball and a cute love story, what more do you need??
Ann
Having spent the last 4 years as a teacher in a high school in rural Montana, I could identify with the story, however I didn't enjoy it as much as I might have if I hadn't had those experiences. As positive as the exerience of basketball is for the team in this book, I have seen too many of the negative consequences when children are pressured by adults to win or be labeled "loser." In addition to that, I thought the book was longer than it needed to be. I've lived through basketball crazed mon ...more
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Stanley Gordon West was born in 1932 and attended St. Paul Central High School in Minnesota. He lived in Bozeman, Montana for several years, and now resides in Shakopee, MN. All of his novels are popular book club selections: Blind Your Ponies, two other novels set in the same time and place as Until They Bring the Streetcars Back - Finding Laura Buggs and Growing an Inch - and his most recent, Sw ...more
More about Stanley Gordon West...
Until They Bring the Streetcars Back Finding Laura Buggs Amos : To Ride A Dead Horse Growing an Inch (Fiction) Sweet Shattered Dreams

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