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Half Broke Horses

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  151,759 ratings  ·  11,862 reviews
Jeannette Walls's memoir The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now, in Half Broke Horses, she brings us the story of her grandmother, told in a first-person voice that is authentic, irresistible, and triumphant.

"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls's no nonsens
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Scribner (first published October 6th 2008)
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Janelle No it doesn't matter they are two separate stories but are connected. I read the Glass Castle first and then Half Broke Horses. I kept thinking back t…moreNo it doesn't matter they are two separate stories but are connected. I read the Glass Castle first and then Half Broke Horses. I kept thinking back to the glass castle toward the end of Half Broke Horses when Rex was introduced. If I had a do over I would of read Half Broke Horses first and then Glass Castle. So I think you are good. (less)
Wivine Mathys It's a non fiction book, a story, the story of the life of Lily Casey, Jeannette Walls grandmother. Jeannette Walls wrote her grandmother biography, s…moreIt's a non fiction book, a story, the story of the life of Lily Casey, Jeannette Walls grandmother. Jeannette Walls wrote her grandmother biography, she used journals, letters, stories her grandmother told her when she was a little girl, a mother, Rosemary also helped Jeannette writing this incredible book! It's also an historical book about the America from the begin of the 20 th century - '60's! A great story about a great woman!(less)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  151,759 ratings  ·  11,862 reviews

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Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, humorous
"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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
Meredith Holley
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Half Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls
Half Broke Horses is a 2009 novel by Jeannette Walls detailing the life of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Half Broke Horses is the story of Lily Casey Smith’s life. Author Jeannette Walls, the granddaughter of Lily Casey Smith, wrote the book from Lily’s point of view. Lily is portrayed as a strong, spirited, and resourceful woman, who overcomes poverty and tragedy with the positive attitude that “When God closes a window, he opens a door. But it’s up to you
Nov 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
This book is based on a real person, Liley Casey Smith. She was a tough woman who learnt enough lessons in her life to make her survive in any which way possible. Along the way she learns not to trust people, and with reason.

Born in a dug-out in Texas with a anti-authoritarian father with a physical disability, but a very strong mind, and a mother who cared more about lost social standing than physical hard work, Lily quickly learns to make up her own mind and let things happen. Riding five hund
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009-reads
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
Joy D
Story of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey, and her life of teaching and ranching in the desert near the Grand Canyon in Arizona in the early 1900s. At first, I thought this book was non-fiction, and it is based on a real person and her actual experiences, but Walls describes it as a novel, stating in the Author’s Note, “since I don’t have the words from Lily herself, and since I have also drawn on my imagination to fill in details that are hazy or missing…the only honest thing to do is call ...more
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
That was fun! Very much looking forward to author's own memoir. The first person narrator worked so well. ...more
Courtney Allen
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Half Broke Horses is about an earlier America that has been mostly forgotten--until works such as this kindly remind us. There is a heart beat in this book that found its way into my reading chair and remained there until the last page. The writing style is simple but artistic, with a well-crafted storyline and a strong, dynamic primary character. This book is also well written with many believable and colorful characters that I found enjoyable. The story drew me along and took me away; it took ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecolit, memoir
"If you want to be reminded of the love of the Lord, Mom always said, just watch the sunrise. And if you want to be reminded of the wrath of the Lord, Dad said, watch a tornado." Thus starts an absorbing, humorous, remarkable "true-life novel" based on bestselling memoirist Jeannette Walls's grandmother's life. There are plenty of sunrise moments, as Lilly is as much a part of the landscape as she is a product of her parents' pioneer life, and there are plenty of tornado moments (the book starts ...more
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
An easy book to read without the shocking episodes that occurred in The Glass Castle. It gave insight into Rosemary, the mom, who just allowed everything to happen without feelings. It gave you insight as to why Rosemary allowed her children to grow up poor and without what we think to be life's necessities. ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
”You can’t fence them in,
Cause they were born to run and then,
You think you’ve got ‘em where ya want’’em
Then they leave you all alone…
Half Broke Horses,
They never come back home- Jaida Dreyer”

Setting:Texas and Arizona; 1901-1965

Cover Thoughts:These kids look thoroughly unimpressed with everything. Even the cat looks unimpressed. But I really feel that this picture (by Dorothea Lange) captures the hardscrabble, no nonsense feel of the book.

”I asked Dad if he believed that everythin
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I recently read the The Glass Castle and decided to pick up this memoir which is a prequel to it. The author tells the story of her grandmother the rancher who was a gritty, resourceful, moxie filled character. The era and lifestyle are so beautifully portrayed; that you almost can sense the heat, dust, and animal smell. I found the book particularly interesting because the author also chronicles her own mother as a child and young adult. In fact, Half Broke Horses ends with Jeannette Wall's bir ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. It has great, humorous lines. The author call this a book of fiction because although it is about her grandmother (Lily) and the youth of her mother, the star of The Glass Castle, Jeannette was only eight when her grandmother died. What we are told are the stories repeated by her family. The dialogs are invented. It is these lines that are so marvelous. There is such humor in them and wisdom too. I like Lilly. Here is a woman who was never crushed by hard times. She live ...more
Elisha Condie
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-clubs
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
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This was an excellent book. The writer draws you into the story from the very beginning when two young sisters are out in the field, and all the sudden they hear a flood coming and begin running for safety.

Sometimes I think that I should only stick to reading books that are as enjoying to read as this o
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
We first meet Rose Mary Walls, the free spirited , artistic, and bohemian mother of author Jeanette Walls in her autobiography The Glass Castle. This second book told in first person narrative by Lily Casey Smith, Rose Mary's mother, who herself was a darn gutsy horse ranching, airplane flying woman during the Great Depression gives you further insight into the families entertaining dynamics. These books have resurfaced after the release of The Glass Castle film last year. They are easy to read ...more
THe beginning was a bit rocky but once Lily got out of childhood the book was much better. It was an interesting journey and Iwas engaged for sure. I DO wish there would have been a different narrator though. If you enjoyed the Glass Castle, it was interesting to see life through Jeannette's grandmother's eye as she views her mother that we all had trouble wrapping our minds around.

3.5 Stars
Book Concierge
Audiobook read by the author.

In what she calls a “true life novel,” Walls turns her attention to her maternal grandmother: Lily Casey Smith. Not having the specifics of dialogue and thought, Walls felt it was not appropriate to call this nonfiction, yet it truly is her grandmother’s story.

Walls is a wonderful storyteller; she really brings Lily and all the other characters to life. And what a life!

Lily survived floods, a tornado, the Great Depression, financial losses, and the pain of personal
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sherri Thacker
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I was thrilled when I was able to read this book right after the Glass Castle since this explains a lot about their lives BEFORE. But to me, this one didn’t hold my interest like Glass Castle did. I found myself skimming throughout and I’m giving it 3 stars for that reason.
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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Jeannette Walls is a writer and journalist.

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 was adapted into a film and released to theaters in August, 2017.

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