Release Date: January 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Scribner
Pages: 272 pages
Pages: 272 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Summary (from Amazon)
Lily Casey Smith, this novel's feisty Texas protagonist, is a frontier teacher, a rancher, a rodeo rider, a poker player, and bootlegger. In Half Broke Horses, she survives droughts, tornados, floods, poverty, and whatever else fate can throw against her. Based on author Jeannette Walls's grandmother, Lily is a plausible character because she has a voice that synchronizes with her history. This novel lives up to the still-gathering acclaim for Walls's novel The Glass Castle.
Thoughts on Half Broke Horses
After reading The Glass Castle, I was excited to dive in to Half Broke Horses. While The Glass Castle was a memoir, this book is billed as "a true-life novel" because of the way Jeanette Walls approached the book. Rather than tell her grandmother Lily's history in third person, she decided to write it in the first person. Lily is the narrator of the book - her stories so legendary within the family that Jeanette felt it was a stronger book when written in Lily's voice.
I still can't decide if I liked that aspect of the book. I felt like The Glass Castle packed such a punch, but Half Broke Horses just wasn't quite all there for me.
Lily is absolutely a force of nature. So much happens to her and she makes so much happen, it's almost hard to believe it all really happened. She's a larger than life woman, and it was really interesting to read about all that she accomplished in her life. It also provides more context for The Glass Castle because you get to know the woman that raised Jeanette's mom. The contrast between Lily and her daughter is quite interesting.
I didn't find it nearly as compelling as Jeanette's memoir, but it was still an interesting read. Because it's written like a novel, I just felt like I didn't buy into it all. I questioned how much was true, what was embellished and what Lily's feelings really were (rather than her granddaughter's interpretation of what her grandmother's feelings might have been). I think it fell short for me because I spent so much time questioning everything. If I'd be able to get past that, I probably would have liked this a lot more.
"Sometimes after I finished a particularly good book, I had the urge to get the library card, find out who else had read the book, and track them down to talk about it."