Half Broke Horses
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Half Broke Horses

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  75,538 ratings  ·  8,481 reviews
Lily Casey Smith, this novel's feisty Texas protagonist, is a frontier teacher, a rancher, a rodeo rider, a poker player, and bootlegger. In Half Broke Horses, she survives droughts, tornados, floods, poverty, and whatever else fate can throw against her. Based on author Jeannette Walls's grandmother, Lily is a plausible character because she has a voice that synchronizes...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Scribner (first published October 6th 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
41st out of 1,331 books — 6,659 voters
The Help by Kathryn StockettWater for Elephants by Sara GruenThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Best for Book Clubs
170th out of 3,127 books — 8,406 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jeanette (Most of My Favorite Authors Are Dead)
Jeannette Walls's original intent was to write a book about her mother Rose Mary's childhood on an Arizona ranch. Rose Mary convinced her that it was grandmother Lily's life story that needed to be told. Having read the book, I have to agree. What a life! Hard times and hard work in the early 1900s, trying to scratch out a life on ranches in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Lily lived on Route 66 when it was still a dirt road.

Walls chose to call the book a novel because she got all the stories s...more
Mayda
If you've read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and wondered about Rosemary's lack of maternal instincts and caring, this book will help explain why she was the way she was. Told in first person, with Jeanette's grandmother, Lily, as the central character, the novel is strewn with facts and stories handed down through family members to Jeannette. Not as compelling as The Glass Castle, it is, nevertheless, a book well worth reading. Lily is a most unforgettable character, and the time frame a...more
Serena
This is the second book I've read from Jeannette Walls, and for the second time I've really enjoyed her writing. The voice in this story is different from The Glass Castle but equally as engaging, and once again it's all true! It also inevitably makes you wonder (for those who've read the GC) how this story ties into the lives of author's parents, and why things turned out the way they did.

It's a great escape from the reality we live in now, with computers, text messaging, and the crazy speed at...more
Rebecca
I am in the midst of this read but I have to say as soon as I read the first page I was invested in what was to unfold. It was a real grabber of a opening.
I finished this book and enjoyed every moment of reading. It was so interesting. It covered many changes in the main characters life and it represented how most people will deal with what comes their way, with grace and acceptance. Very good book.
Sparrow
One way to really get me pissed off is to tell me that the past was innocent and simple. What you really mean when you say that is that your childhood was innocent and simple, which is probably also debatable, but at least seems fair from a nostalgic standpoint. The farther we look back to our childhoods, the more innocent life seems, and so things that happened before we were born must be the most innocent. No. Not true. People have always been just about as fucked up as we are now. I would say...more
Diane
"I never knew a girl to have such gumption," [Mom would] say. "But I'm not too sure that's a good thing." -- Half Broke Horses

I loved this book! It's a true-life novel about Walls' grandmother, Lily Casey, who had an amazing life. She was born in 1901 in a dugout in Texas, and learned about ranching from her father. At 15, she left home to be a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Arizona. She was also an accomplished horsewoman, she knew how to repair cars and she learned how to fly a plane. Li...more
Sterlingcindysu
A great story, just as in The Glass Castle. How could a mother and daughter be any different? To me, there were 2 "sins of omission" here--one, I really wish Walls would have put a map at the beginning of the book of the west where Lily lived because I'm not familiar with the distances and all the moves back and forth. The other, since it is a work of fiction based on her grandmother's life (vs. a biography) Walls could have extended the book by another 100 pages or so to really emphasize some o...more
Tony
Walls, Jeannette. HALF BROKE HORSES. (2009). **. I seem to have stumbled across a sixth-grade reader masquerading as main-stream fiction. The inside jacket calls this book, “Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults.” I’d call it more, “Calamity Jane: Her Life as Told by Herself.” It is, ostensibly, a partly fictionalized life of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who grew up on a hard-scrabble farm/rance, learning to do what all the other ranch hands did and what her father couldn’t do. Her fath...more
Judy
I wish Jeannette Walls' biography/novel 'Half Broke Horses' had been available prior to her own biography 'The Glass Castle'. Both of the stories are related and rivetting but 'Half Broke Horses' provides the background for Jeannette's bizarre upbringing. This account of her grand-mother's life living on ranches in west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona is a wonderful tribute to a 'pioneer' who isn't afraid of hard labor--she's one spunky, admirable woman and a real survivor.
Sherry
Walls' latest novel skillfully blends her grandmother's rich history with the fascinating history of her day, taking us on a journey from the turn of the twentieth century to the post-WWII era. Readers get a thorough and compelling picture of what life was like for competent, hard-working cattle ranchers in the American southwest during the Dust Bowl days. Unflappable, grandmother Lily Casey Smith lived an adventurous life: a young woman growing up on ranches in wide open spaces (and at various...more
Olivia
It would be difficult not to like the writing style of Jeannette Walls. Elegant and down to earth at the same time, she has the ability to strike a chord of familiarity in the reader. She makes it easy to let yourself become a part of the story and to visualize the characters within their element. Loved this story. It’s the simple things in life that can sometimes lead to extraordinary story telling. Ms. Walls gets a four on the GR scale because of her ability to tell a great tale. And for that,...more
Bridget
This is the story of the author's grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. It is called a "True Life Novel" because it is written from the stories that the author, Jeannette Walls, remembers her grandmother telling, rather than from personal papers.

Lily comes across as a pretty amazing woman, who is also a survivor. She makes her way through life in a pretty no-nonsense kind of manner, always managing to find a way to make things work, whether it is The Great Depression, or tornadoes and floods.

I read thi...more
D
A well-told story about a gutsy, rock-strong lady with a heart bigger and better than most folks out there...a friend who recommended and loaned the novel to me remarked that she wished that Lily Casey really was a fictional character so that there could be a whole series based on her...I agreed, but at the same time, I almost wish it was a story that was completely nonfiction, a pure biography...I want the true Lily Casey to be as strong and amazing, as solid and determined, as she was depicted...more
Nancy
Not as compelling as "Glass Castle," but this definitely grew on me half-way through. Once you realize that it's not another autobiography (oops) of Walls, you'll probably be disappointed. This is a short-ish read of the life of her mother's mother, Lilly. Walls put together a first-person story of her unique grandmother who lived her hard life on a ranch. Although Walls might have captured the essence of her grandmother, this does not come close to her own memoir. She should stick with what she...more
Marissa
I really enjoyed this book, it gave you quite an image of what life was like in the rural West back in the early 1900's. And it totally makes me want to re-read the Glass Castle! (No, you don't need to have read it before you read this.)
Joey Cardoza
There is one way to sum this book up: WWLCSD! WHAT WOULD LILLY CASEY SMITH DO!?

If you liked the Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls you will love Half Broke Horses, the follow up.. err should I say the prequel? I never know which story to recommend reading first, a toss up that of which can only be properly settled by reading both stories and deciding for yourself.

The Glass Castle was the author's first book, a memoir detailing her childhood that would give just about anyone who thinks they had it...more
Brooke
Mar 26, 2010 Brooke rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Sandy, Melissa, Kathy, Barrie
Recommended to Brooke by: Julie,
Picked this up at the airport and blew through 100 pages same day. I am loving the main character so far, her voice cam through loud and clear.

This was definitely the right read at the right time kind of book. Also enjoyed having read the Glass Castle, I had a perspective of how Rosemary's life would turn out and such a contrast in the way her mother raised her vs. how she raised her daughter.

Well worth purchasing in paperback, I see myself lending this out to lots of folks.

Good read!!
Deborah
I am surprisingly enjoying this book that I picked up as a plane-trip book at the Chicago airport. Having heard of the author, it was a whim to read this, her latest memoir/novel featuring thoughts and memories of her grandmother, great grandmother and mother. It's an exceptionally heartwarming read full of pioneer stories and characters.
Janene
February book club read.....

What an enjoyable read. It was unanimous by the group, that we all would loved to have known Lily and the author did a fantastic job of bringing us right into the story. Highly recommended.
Anna Marie
I found this book to be a good, quick read. It answered a lot of questions regarding how Rose Mary came to be the woman she was depicted as in "The Glass Castle." I wish I had read this book first because now I want to reread Jeannette Wall's first book. Jeannette Walls' mother's upbringing was so unconventional that it's not surprising she, in turn, would parent in an unconventional way. What's hard to understand is how Rose Mary turned out to be as abusive and uncaring as she was given how dri...more
Elisha Condie
I feel exactly the same way my friend Anna did about this book - I loved it at first but then it kind of went downhill from there. I'd say me and this book parted cordially, not really friendly like. I just finished reading it and that's why I'm using country-bumpkinish language. A note to Ms. Walls -it's not all that charming, is it?

This story follows Walls' real life grandmother and her colorful life, living in a dugout out West, being scammed in Chicago, working her way back out West, marr...more
Kate
Exciting tale about Lily Casey Smith, a Depression-era survivor who makes tough situations work for her. Also reminds me that I'm glad I never lived in a "dug-out," where bugs and scorpions come out of the mud walls.

The story is a prequel to Walls's memoir, the Glass Castle, and that's part of the problem. The novel doesn't have much of an arc. Smith, who is Walls's grandmother, gets more secure and progressively weirder as the novel goes on, but the focus seems to be that Smith's daughter grow...more
Karen
If you read the memoir, Glasscastles, and wondered how Rosemary got to be who she is, this is the book for you. Although much of it is invented, thus the subtitle A True-Life Novel, the narrative feels consistent with the earlier memoir. Imagine a mother that encourages her children not to make friends with their classmates in the one-room school she teaches because it would make things more difficult for her? Imagine a mother who decided early on not to tell her beautiful little daughter that s...more
Crystal
To be honest, five stars might be too generous, but I was so very impressed by this author's rise to a seemingly unsurmountable challenge, which was to create a worthy, readable, enjoyable book following the HUGE success of her first book.

In her first book, "The Glass Castle", Ms. Walls gives us a glimpse into her tragic yet memorable family. And while "Half Broke Horses" is a novel, it satisfies the voyeuristic curiosity by retelling us tales about her maternal grandmother which seems to defini...more
Denise
Half Broke Horses is Jeannette Walls interpretation of the life of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. She calls it a true-life novel as the story is told from the perspective of Lily herself and some of the details are intuited rather then factual. This adds to the story rather than detracting from it as it contributes depth and fleshes out the story. Its a grand story of a woman who lived life large. Lily was a tough, smart, outspoken, and resourceful woman who lived through floods, tornadoes,...more
Rusty
I've had this book on my shelves since it first came out, compliments of a gr friend. Why it took me so long to read I'm not sure. It's funny, heartening and just plain fun. It's the story of the author's grandmother who was a determined woman who chose how she lived from gambling with the cowboys to selling contraband liquor. It's chock full of anecdotes gathered from her past. Of course, the author invents much of the dialog but the facts and bones of the book belong to Lily Casey Smith who li...more
Lars Guthrie
The writing in Jeanette Walls’s ‘Half Broke Horses’ is unfussy, unfancy and unfettered. Told in the first person—and fictional—voice of her grandmother, it is by necessity free of high-falutin’ vocabulary. Lily Casey Smith would not have put up with any such nonsense.

That’s not to say ‘Half Broke Horses’ is unpoetic. When Lily’s hopelessly romantic sister Helen ends her own life, the hurt transcends personal grief: ‘When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re...more
Lauren
Jeannette Walls’ first book, The Glass Castle, was the best book I read last summer. While that book detailed her life on the road with a pair of nomads as parents, this book told the incredible story of her maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, as she grew up in the tough terrain of the old west.

Lily Casey Smith was quite a woman. She could ride horses better than any man, teach any child who entered her classroom, and at a time and place when the tough terrain of the west could kill you at...more
Robyn
This was one of those books I hated to see end. I loved Wall’s first memoir, Glass Castles, and I enjoyed this new book just as much! This time Walls tells the true life story of her maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Instead of writing about her ancestor’s life from a third-person point of view or even from the first-person writer’s point of view, Walls tells this story from the first-person point of view of Lily Casey Smith herself. It reads more like a novel than a true story (and Walls...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Unexpectedly compelling, despite its simplicity, the story of Lily Casey is interesting and engaging. Jeanette has given her grandmother a unique voice - part true, part fictionalised. It is the actions of her grandmother that I admire most - a woman who made a lot of her tough circumstances. Having said that, Lily is hardly maternal and a not one for compromises, which may contribute to a lot of Rose Mary's later choices. Yet Lily is essentially portrayed as a likeable woman who worked hard, ca...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Lily Casey Smith 29 289 Mar 06, 2014 06:24PM  
comparing common books 7 64 Apr 14, 2012 07:39PM  
  • She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana
  • The Dream: A Memoir
  • The Prize Winner Of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids On 25 Words Or Less
  • Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard
  • The Whistling Season
  • Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2)
  • Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer
  • What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir
  • Moloka'i
  • The Hearts of Horses
  • Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
  • Mudbound
  • Same Kind of Different as Me
  • The Irresistible Henry House
  • Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
  • Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It
  • Cutting for Stone
  • The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir
3275
Jeannette Walls is a writer and journalist. She was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated with honors from Barnard College, the women's college affiliated with Columbia University. She published a bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, in 2005. The book is being made into a film by Paramount.
More about Jeannette Walls...
The Glass Castle The Silver Star Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip ontembare paarden / het glazen kasteel Silver star / Political suicide / Street cat named Bob / Fly away (Reader's Digest Select Editions, Volume 6, 2013)

Share This Book

“Most important thing in life is learning how to fall.” 327 likes
“Nobody's perfect. We're all just one step up from the beasts and one step down from the angels.” 154 likes
More quotes…