Half Broke Horses

halfbrokeOne of the many snow storms that hit the Philadelphia region in January prompted the postponement of our January book club meeting to mid-February. While I was saddened to miss out on my favorite monthly activity, I did appreciate the extra two weeks to actually finish the book (alright I didn't even finish it in time for our meeting - but I had only 20 pages left). HAF hosted our January meeting and chose Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. GoodReads (also known as GinaReads to CF due to what she views as my harsh criticism of other readers' book reviews on the site) breaks it down for us:

Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel is based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother Lily Casey Smith. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town -- riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane, and, with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.

Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds -- against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Half Broke Horses will transfix readers everywhere.

I thoroughly enjoyed Half Broke Horses as did the overwhelming majority of my book club. The life of Lily Casey Smith as told by her granddaughter Jeannette Walls is entertaining and worlds different from the everyday experiences of everyone I know. Lily was as bad ass a woman as bad ass women went in the early 1900s. She grew up breaking horses (for those uneducated with ranch life, breaking a horse equates to training them so they may be ridden by people) in a dirt house and counted among her life experiences operating a ranch amassing hundreds of thousands of acres with her husband, racing horses and illegally selling alcohol out of her house during Prohibition. In short, Lily made many of our members feel like complete slackers in comparison (or, in the words of MR, we felt like total wimps). When Lily lived on a ranch with no water source, she and her husband dug a bunch of huge dams. With her infant baby in a milk carton in the back of a trailer during a huge storm. No big deal.

If you read Jeannette Walls's first book, The Glass Castle (an HCG favorite), then you'll have an added appreciation for Horses. Yes, Jeannette Walls's mom was crazy even as a child. Walls admittedly notes that much of the details included in Horses derive from the author's imagination, but we didn't really care. Horses was a quick, engaging read comprised of short chapters, and I looked forward to each time I settled down to read it.

In exciting book club news, I am finally hosting our February meeting after a painfully long hiatus (almost a year and half) caused by moving and a lack of furniture. As you can imagine, Team HCG has a big weekend full of painting and prepping ahead. As I've said before, to me, hosting book club is a big deal. If you're looking for a reason to force yourself to whip your house into order (aren't we all), volunteer to host book club. Your husband will love you for it.