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Half Broke Horses

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  122,099 Ratings  ·  10,572 Reviews
Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.

“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly
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ebook, 288 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…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)
Lisa Historical fiction. I believe that Walls' book was formed from discussions she had with her mother, Rose Mary, about her grandmother, Lily. The…moreHistorical fiction. I believe that Walls' book was formed from discussions she had with her mother, Rose Mary, about her grandmother, Lily. The dialogue, obviously, is fictionalized, but some of the events are real.(less)

Community Reviews

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Diane
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Mayda
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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
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Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Half Broke Horses - Nevisande : Jeannette Walls - ISBN : 1416586288 - ISBN13 : 9781416586289 - Dar 272 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2008
Sparrow
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
Serena
Nov 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Margitte
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
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Tony
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Walls, Jeannette. HALF BROKE HORSES. (2009). **. I seem to have stumbled across a sixth-grade reader masquerading as main-stream fiction. The inside jacket calls this book, “Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults.” I’d call it more, “Calamity Jane: Her Life as Told by Herself.” It is, ostensibly, a partly fictionalized life of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who grew up on a hard-scrabble farm/rance, learning to do what all the other ranch hands did and what her father couldn’t do. Her fath ...more
Bridget
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Rebecca
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.
Sterlingcindysu
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was fun! Very much looking forward to author's own memoir. The first person narrator worked so well.
Judy
Oct 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sherry
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Olivia
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tara
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
Lynn
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chrissie
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
Courtney Allen
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katherine
description
”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.

Plot:
”I asked Dad if he believed that everything tha
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Elisha Condie
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Naomi Sarah
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I LOVE THIS BOOK. (Sooo close to rating it a smashing five.)

1. First off, IT'S A TRUE STORY. And that makes it 100x better and more interesting. Not to mention fascinating.
2. LILY IS AMAZING. I feel like a feeble weakling with no courage whatsoever when I read about her! Driving on horseback for over a month through the prairies and deserts to teach in a strange village for half a year....? AT THE AGE OF FIFTEEN? Wo.ah. Holding her sister in a poplar tree for the whole night so that she wouldn
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D
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jessaka
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Crystal
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Rebecca McNutt
Half Broke Horses is one of the most moving and nostalgic memoirs I've ever read. The author pulls readers into a gritty country life where times are tough but ultimately it's all worth it.
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
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SheriC (Portable Magic)
This book is exactly what it promised to be: a fictionalized memoir, based on the author's oral family history. It follows the author's grandmother's life story, which was a somewhat adventurous one. The story, like all good family histories, has the unmistakable elements of the tall tale (or as my own dad puts it, "telling lies") where the truth has been either stretched or embroidered to fill in the gaps or make boring stuff more interesting, or to interpret events as Fate/God's Will.

The prob
...more
Kate
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Unexpectedly compelling, despite its simplicity, the story of Lily Casey is interesting and engaging. Jeanette has given her grandmother a unique voice - part true, part fictionalised. It is the actions of her grandmother that I admire most - a woman who made a lot of her tough circumstances. Having said that, Lily is hardly maternal and a not one for compromises, which may contribute to a lot of Rose Mary's later choices. Yet Lily is essentially portrayed as a likeable woman who worked hard, ca ...more
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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 is being adapted into a film coming to theaters this August 11th.
More about Jeannette Walls...
“Most important thing in life is learning how to fall.” 442 likes
“Nobody's perfect. We're all just one step up from the beasts and one step down from the angels.” 239 likes
More quotes…