Yvonne's Reviews > Half Broke Horses

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
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Sep 07, 2012

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Read on September 07, 2012

For those of you who read and loved The Glass Castle, this book is about Jeannette Walls' grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Lily was 'a real pistol'.
She played poker, rode in horse races, spoke her mind, worked harder than most men, had a huge heart but don't cross her. She was adventuresome, practical, and innovative.
She live a big life through the end of the 1800's into the 20th century. But she lived way outside so called civilization for much of her life. Living on farms, ranches and being a part of the natural world, rarely having electricity or plumbing. She knew great hardship and loss, but she was one of those people who never gave up.

She lived her young girlhood on a farm in Texas that had no water and flooded once or twice a year. Her family's first home was a sod house, cut into the side of a hill. When it rained, some of the sod would fall down on the family inside.

Her mother was a gentile woman and while she loved Lily, was also appalled by Lily's strong work ethic and physicality which could ruin her chances to marry. Her father was hit in the head by a horse at a young age and so never spoke properly after that. The family understood him but other people didn't. He taught Lily about horses, how to ride, how to train them, how to break them, and of course, she was fearless.

The family moved to Arizona and it's there that Lily lived most of her life. Running an 180,000 acre cattle ranch with her husband and two young children. Her children growing up wild and fearless. When she and her husband sent them off to boarding school to try and instill some discipline into them, they acted out, did poorly and begged not to go back. In fact Rosemary, Lily's daughter and Jeannette's mother, never adapted to a life of solidity or security, never even having a decent home or job. But we read that book.

Lily also spent much of her working life as a teacher, a job she adored. She worked in one room school houses, teaching her own brand of life to the children and girls in particular. She wouldn't put up with anyone who bullied someone else or didn't treat another person with respect. She ran into trouble most of her life, was fired from most all her teaching jobs, and never saw a problem she couldn't find a solution to.

What a life Lily Casey Smith lived. She was what they used to call 'a pistol'. A strong, assertive woman who worked hard physically and mentally.

This is a quick and really interesting read. I like Jeannette Walls writing style very much.
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