Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > Half Broke Horses

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
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's review
Aug 27, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: biography-memoir, history, four-star-nonfiction, nonfiction
Read in October, 2009

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 secondhand, from Lily's daughter Rose Mary. However, I'm shelving it as a nonfiction memoir. It reads like a memoir, and the stories are true. Walls wrote it in the first person, as if Lily Casey Smith were telling you her life story. After awhile I got so into it that I forgot it wasn't really Lily speaking.

Walls is such a gifted writer. The stories come alive and move along so easily. If you've read The Glass Castle, you'll also appreciate the insight Half Broke Horses gives about how Rose Mary's early life made her the unconventional mother she later became.

If you're not the type to normally enjoy biographies, I recommend giving this book a try. It's relatively short and never boring or overdone.
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Reading Progress

10/07/2009 page 20
7.35% "Imagine having a rattler fall from the ceiling onto your table during Easter dinner! :0"
10/07/2009 page 122
44.85% "Dang, I need to start behaving like a proper spinster, sleeping in the attic and sitting in the kitchen corner peeling potatoes all day!"

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Sanne I loved this book. It was an easy-fall-into read about the life of the grandmother of the writer, and because it has been written in the first person it is so easy to forget it's not been written by the grandmother. One feels as though they are on the journey with Lily, through such hard and essentially poor times. I found this to be a gritty, no nonsense, and very matter-of-fact, story with a lot of humour and substance. Because I enjoyed it so much I will read it again one day.

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