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The Last Cowgirl

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  249 ratings  ·  71 reviews
They say you can't go home again, but sometimes, you don't have a choice

Dickie Sinfield was seven years old when her father decided to become a cowboy and move his family from their comfortable suburban home to a small run-down ranch in Clayton, Utah. From her first stock show to the day she turns eighteen and flees for the comforts of the city, Dickie bucks the cattle-ran
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published January 2nd 2008 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  249 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've probably lowered my expectations a bit since embarking on the Reader's Choice book list from the local library. Out of all the books written, these are the 20ish that you find to be the best?

With that being said, I certainly didn't harbor high hopes for this one. It's written by a local author and those tend to mock the culture and dominant religion, and this book certainly did it's share of picking fun on Utah and Utahns. However, what was refreshing was the way it sounded much like an aut
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. The author created compelling characters. I was drawn into the story immediately and could not put it down. Dickie is a woman in her 50s who returns home when her brother dies. Her life has been one long struggle against herself and her denial about who she really is and where she belongs. The author alternates between flashbacks and current times. The book was not what I expected. I didn't expect it to be so deep and so touching. I would rate it fiv ...more
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book caught my attention when I walked past the New Books aisle in the library, probably because I wish I could be re-born into some Texan family where I'd do nothing but stomp around in cowboy boots and ride horses.

It's a quick read. I liked it. The F-bomb is dropped a few times though.
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
It took me awhile to get into this book, I wasn't sure I was going to finish it until the last 70 pages. I liked the characters but the build up simply was lacking something for me. I wasn't sure if this was supposed to be a thriller, nostalgia or "I was a teenage misfit". ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed a lot about this book--the characters, dialogue, and perhaps more than other aspect the description of the geography and culture of modern-day (and 1960s) Utah. One quibble: the way the characters talk to each other when they are teenagers is too sophisticated. But other than that, a very good story.
Margaret Fullarton
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was there! I loved this story and the way it was written - romantic and mysterious but no mush or sex - brilliant really. I loved the way it unfolded and effortlessly moved from past to present. The characters were real and even though the background was alien to me I had no difficulty in understanding and being part of it. Great story!
Gillian Howcroft
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyable book about Utah ranchers, first love and the impact our parents have on us. The characters pop off the page particularly Bev who always says the right thing!
Ellen Kremer
Very enjoyable. Would like a sequel.
Amanda P
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
They say you can never go home again but Dickie proved that wrong. The Last Cowgirl was a quick read I strategically placed between some longer, more character intense books so I’m not sure if I loved it so much because it gave me a much needed break or because of the actual story. That’s really the only reason why I can’t give it 5 stars.

I felt like it got off to a slow start but by 1/3 of the way through I was hooked. There were realistic, likable characters and I felt like I could relate to t
Erin Moore
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's always amusing to read other reviews, because we all read with such a subjective lens. For me, an East Coaster, I was absolutely fascinated by this glimpse into Mormon culture, and even the idea of Jack Mormons, which I'd never even heard of before. (Guess every religions has its lapsed adherents...)

And while I'm sure (like other reviewers have mentioned) that the author of this book couldn't help but make this an interpretation of her own childhood, it's not a memoir. It's a novel, with b
May 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
If I could, I'd give it 4-1/2 stars. The only thing keeping it from 5 for me was the slow start. I almost gave up on it. But I'm really glad I stuck it out. It never does go at a break-neck speed, but I did find it hard to put down once the story got started. The main character, Dickie, comes from a Mormon family living in Utah. Her mother is a devout Mormon, but her father is a "jack Mormon". (You have to read it to find out what that is. I will say this, her father at the beginning made me lau ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
This novel really does read like a memoir as another person has already stated. It is a memoir of growing up on a ranch in 1960s Utah. Yes, it is a Mormon family or "jack Mormon", however you wish to call it, but the religion plays a very small role in the novel. Bascially, when it comes to Utah, you can't have one without the other. The Mormonism in this novel is very tastefully mentioned here and there and the author never portrays the religion as saintly or without its flaws. I was surprised ...more
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dickie Sinfield grew up an unwilling ranch hand when her father suddenly sold their suburban home and purchased a piece of land out in the wilds of Utah. Though her sister doesn’t take to the life and her brother seems born to it, Dickie is an unhappy in between, pleased with the work and the land but having convinced herself from an early age that she hates it. This sort of cognitive dissonance is a theme throughout the novel, from Dickie’s cowgirl roots to Utahns’ attitude toward the testing a ...more
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
A nice love story for desert ranching in Utah. The book is well plotted but the characters are not quite complete. Each one is playing a role designed for them but somehow there is a lack of tension in their personal interactions. For example, when Dickie discovers her mom's affair with Captain Fulmer, there is never any confrontation or resolution of that event. The emotional content of Dickie v Holy relationship is not at all developed. Part of the story's point maybe that Dickie's life is bui ...more
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an intriguing look at a woman who has to confront the life she tried to run away from for so long. She had a painful childhood which extended into not wanting close relationships as an adult as a way to insure that she wouldn't be hurt again. My feelings toward the main character, Dickie, were mixed. In the flashback chapters, I loved how her life as an awkward teen was written. It reminded me of how hard it can be at times to grow up. But as an adult I wanted to slap her sill ...more
Michele Casper
Dec 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I don't even know why I kept reading this book. Sometimes I just have this compulsion to finish a book once I've started it. This book takes place in the Utah desert. The main character, Dickie, is unhappy from the time she is a little girl, especially when her father takes up ranching. It seems that most everybody in this story is unhappy. There is a negative slant to everything in this tale. There are references to Mormon culture which are not complimentary, nor do they show any kind of unders ...more
Barbara Richardson
Feb 21, 2011 rated it liked it
A sad and realistic portrayal of life in a rural Utah valley. Dickie Sinfield is almost as stubborn as her dad. He moves his family onto a ranch west of Salt Lake City, hoping to turn them into cowboys. It's a hard life and he is the only enthusiast. Though Dickie has a knack for riding and the range, she leaves town right after high school to make her own life as a journalist. She rejects her past rather than dealing with it, and it waits so patiently for her return.

At the start of the novel, D
Yesterday I finished a good story called the Last Cowgirl. This is mainly literary fiction with a hint of historical fiction, due to flashbacks. Darlene Ruth "Dickie" Sinfield returns back to Clayton, Utah, when her brother is killed and goes to his funeral. This middle-aged city girl revisits the town she hated with flashbacks to the 1960s and 1970s, to the new town she once hated, from suburban life to ranch life with her family, her best friend Holly, her first love Herbert "Stumpy" Nelson, a ...more
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a story of a young 7 yr old girl who was suddenly taken out of a suburban life and thrown into a remote ranch life following the wiles of her father. The family tries to make the best of it, but this new life ends up making them a dysfunctional family. Her older sister Annie absolutely refuses to accept this new life. However, her older brother Heber buys into it lock, stock and barrel. Dickie is somewhere in the middle and thinks she wants off the ranch as quick as she can, yet somethin ...more
David Pace
Jana is a gifted writer. I just finished her novel "The Last Cowgirl" and will never see Rush Valley and Tooele County, Utah quite the same way again. And the true account in the book of the nerve gas poisoining of livestock by the Army in Skull Valley will chill you to the bone. In the end of this satisfying book, family and land prevail, but there is much heartache that nevertheless will strike you as real. This is also what I would consider a good example of Mormon cross-over literature. She ...more
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, utah
Ganoa? The Beehive Banner? You mean Tooele? The Deseret News? As a native Utard, I had a hard time getting into these fictionalized names in an otherwise straightforward story about life in the West Desert. And I only chose this book based on its Utah setting. And while I was occasionally pulled into the story, it was largely unsatisfying. The anti-federal government tirade was not well integrated into the cowboy coming-of-age/ always been in love with the boy next door story. The characters nev ...more
Marilyn Pettigrove
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'd have to give this a 4+ rating. The story takes place in Utah where Mormanism is the norm. However these characters aren't religious. It is based around the death of Heber Sinfield whose sister Dickie (Darlene) narrates the book. Heber has passed after exposure to a nerve gas in tests the government has made. When the family gathers, Dickie has a chance to look back over 30+ years at the people and the place she tried so hard to get away from and finds her carefully laid out existence is lack ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
I finally had to put this down. I only got half way through and decided to give in and not read anymore. The writing was good, nothing against the author. I had a bad taste in my mouth about Dickie so maybe that is why I could not get drawn in. I kept trying and trying thinking she will turn around and I'll enjoy the story more but couldn't. I have books to get off my shelf and this one is a block in my path. I hope I didnt miss out on something meaningful or life learning by putting this down b ...more
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Story of Dickie, a talented, ambivalent, anxious and often unhappy newspaper reporter from Salt Lake City who faces her past, her complicated family relationships, her love/hate relationship with the arid cattle land where her family relocated when she was in elementary school. Good characters, good sense of place, interesting observations about Mormons, plot twist involving secret government testing for biological warfare. I enjoyed it.
Apr 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It is very true to reality in the small towns in Utah that I have "lived" in. The way the Mormon's are shown is pretty funny, and accurate for some, in some small towns. It was an easy read, and had lots of good points about life lessons. There is a bit of Mormon bashing, and some swearing, but it's all done, in my opinion, in good taste. I would recommend reading this book to learn about life in rural Utah, as well as live a cowboy fantasy of your own. ...more
Aug 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
Simply horrible. Made me question my tendencies toward chick lit. Just everything awful about chick lit crammed into one book--terrible, unbelievable dialogue, impossibly built-up family situations, unearned resolutions, irritating and unnecessary repetition of irrelevant physical details. Honestly, how many times do we have to read that Stumpy's hair was thick and red?? And really, think twice about naming the romantic lead "Stumpy."

Joyce Allen
Sep 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Very interseting characters, an unusual setting and an intriging plot. As with many books, this is a journey to finding oneself. The main character,Lexie, has always struggled with her hatred for the mountais,near her home of Salt Lake City.It is not until the death of her brother, that she comes face to face with the reality of her hatred.This book is set in Modern day Utah. It does however, flashback to the main character's childhood. ...more
Chanel Earl
Jan 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
After reading this book I was lucky enough to get to interview Jana Richman for a magazine article. She is a wonderful person with a gift of being able to describe all sides of people without judging them. I love how she took the culture and people of Utah and made them seem new and exciting, even exotic. And her writing is beautiful.
Elisa Clawson
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008, do-not-own
Why do these books that take place in Utah, have Mormons who are idiots and don't follow the commandments of the church!! The Bishop drinking coffee because he was there in his capacity as a lawyer not Bishop. And while I realize that the main characters are "jack" Mormons, the language is disgusting. ...more
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readers-choice
Very sweet story. I really enjoyed Stumpy and Dickie as characters. Dickie in many ways reminded me of myself in that you try and block out bad things. I liked the way Dickie never wanted to see herself as a cowgirl and then ended up being one. Since I'm from Utah, it was also interesting to read about the "utah desert culture". ...more
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