despite its bold, college-sports-team cover colors, i would probably never have picked this book up if i hadn't needed to read a recent spur-award-winner for my beloved readers' advisory class. but, dammit, if it wasn't the most enjoyable thing i have read in a while. and i know that lately i have been slapping a ton of reviews up here, and y'all are sick of my stupid opinions, but heed me one more time: this book is crazy-good. greg, fonso, mfso - feel free to ignore me here, but ladies, come a little closer. it's not a girlie book, but it really captures something about that teetery place between (see, greg: "tween") child- and womanhood. i have no idea how something like this wins a spur award and cormac mccarthy doesn't - to me he is the embodiment of tough men, stinky boots, and scalping violence. but it does take place in colorado, which is west of where i am, so who am i to argue?
this is a book that remembers how to tell a story, without complicating the process. its depth is in its simplicity, if you follow. the story is not revolutionary,(girl, horses, death, lies, fantasy world, teacher crush, economic disparity, eloped sister, first kiss, depressed mother, adultery, secrets secrets secrets, and life's disappointments including the ways a marriage can come apart) but it is told very well. the clear voice of the narrator and her eventual disillusionment and realizations is uncanny and a perfect crystallization of how it feels to be a girl on the cusp of puberty, with all of its aggression and violent impulses and unsure footing, cruelty and tenderness, the conflict, the decisions one makes to become the woman you become; particularly here, where the traditional role models are damaged, absent, or financially impossible. and the foal-weaning passages were heartbreaking and unexpected. oh, man.
i loved this character. i loved her in all of her moods: confessional, spiteful, hopeful, lonely, guilty, triumphant. i loved the pacing, as her fantasy safety net crumbles and the truth comes out in tiny pieces and life's tarnish is revealed. it would also be acceptable for a YA audience, one that had also enjoyed to kill a mockingbird. and it makes me want to tell you to read what's eating gilbert grape, because the book is so so good.
all in all, a perfect story, perfectly told. now, go. i will try to hold off reviewing for a while.