Ed's Reviews > Half Broke Horses

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
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's review
Dec 02, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 4-stars, 2009, read-on-kindle, shared-in-household, debut-novel
Read in November, 2009

As someone who fondly recalled Jeanette Walls' memoir "The Glass Castle," I was very much looking forward to what amounts to its prequel, in which Walls takes on the voice of her maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith.

This "true-life novel" took some getting used to, it had the familiarity and feel of old family tales being passed down through the generations, almost more vignettes than an actual plot. But once I let go of trying to fit the book into some sort of pre-existing genre "box" or comparing it "Castle" (which was a true first-person account), I thoroughly enjoyed it. It certainly helped explain why Walls' own youth as told through "Castle" would be so unconventional and downright odd at times. She comes from spunky genes and I love spunk!

Adding to my enjoyment is that a great deal of the novel is set in my adopted home state of Arizona (along with doses of New Mexico, Texas, and even Chicago), so quite interesting to learn about life on the ranches of northern Arizona and even some details of my hometown of Phoenix which, with the advent of air conditioning, was starting to grow into a big city (though it doesn't seem much like a city today, more urban sprawl).

A quick, entertaining, educational, funny, dramatic, and certainly eye-opening read of what life was like in the "Old West" in the not so distant past. It almost made me want to pull "The Glass Castle" back off shelf for a re-read. Walls is a skilled storyteller, but now having seemingly and fully mined her family's past and her own life, it will be interesting to see what she will come up next.

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