Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Apr 7, 2010


Wow--this was a kick!  My favorite area of the country--Southwest--combined with horses, intestinal fortitude, common sense and family history--it doesn't get much better than this.  Jeannette Walls fleshes out the story of her grandmother, a resourceful  and self-reliant individual who at the age of fifteen traveled alone 500 miles on her pony to teach in a one-room school house on the frontier.  She ranched with her husband Jim, drove cars, flew planes, and raised two children through the Depression, droughts, and floods, imbueing them with her own forthright and singular outlook on life.  Unafraid of whatever life hands her, Lily Casey Smith bootlegs whisky during Prohibition, drives a hearse to pick up the students for her school, faces down the patriarch of the local polygamist who doesn't take to Lily's teaching, gets her college degree in two years, shows off her new dentures to waitresses, becomes a Democratic precinct captain, hunts for uranium, and still remains a half broke horse.  Her spirit and courage come down through her daughter and then her granddaughter, Jeannette, who is compelled to preserve Lily's  rich life in this "true-life novel".

Reviewed by Library Staff