Friday Favorites: Half Broke Horses

Friday, March 25, 2011

Half Broke Horses
by Jeannette Walls

The book begins with a flood. Literally, on the first page a flash flood threatens the lives of three young children in Texas. From that second on the book completely hooked me. This addictive read is a “real life novel” from the author of The Glass Castle (which I loved). Her first book chronicled her own unconventional childhood. This book tells her grandma Lily’s story.

It’s a “novel” because she allows Lily’s voice to tell the story and doesn’t question the amazing stories that have been passed down orally in her family. The style is perfect and I think it would have felt stilted and forced if written in any other way. Lily is a spitfire and led one hell of a life. It’s rare for me to feel so completely sucked in to a nonfiction book. I had a hard time putting it down, because there was no end to the trials Lily faced. Her life reads like a movie.

Whenever she decided she wanted something, she just rolled up her sleeves and made it happen. She didn’t shy away from hard work, but she also never became complacent in her life and settled for what she had. Her strong personality was off-putting to many people in her life, but that never stopped her. She stood her ground regardless of public opinion. She was determined, brave and a fierce advocate for her children.

“I realized that you can get so used to certain luxuries that you start to think they’re necessities, but when you have to forgo them, you come to see that you don’t need them after all.”

If you’ve already read The Glass Castle (definitely not a necessary thing to do before reading this) you’ll be interested to learn more about the author’s mother Rosemary. This book explains her upbringing, which sheds a lot of light on why she turned out like she did. It’s not a perfect book, but I loved it. So whether you’re interested in learning more about their family or just want a great story, read this!

The book is packed with too many great one-liners to mention, but here are a few of my favorites…

"The only difference between a traitor and a patriot is your perspective."

“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.”

“Some times 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.”


Kristi said...

I loved the Glass Castle when I read it a few years ago. Jeanette Walls is a fantastic writer so I'd love to pick this one up at some point.

Sandy Nawrot said...

The Glass Castle is an incredible book, and made me think I was bi-polar with my mood swinging between homicidal, pity, and endearment. Boy that mother sure pissed me off! I don't care what kind of problems she has. I do have this book on my shelves, and I do intend to read, but I had heard it was near as good as TGC.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I loved The Glass Castle too. I wish Walls had more interesting relatives to write about.

Jenners said...

I was a big fan of The Glass Castle so I'll have to read this one.

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

I haven't read it but have wanted to so it's good to know you liked it. Doesn't it take place in Arizona?

BookQuoter said...

I have been meaning to read this soon after I read Glass Castle, but somehow ended up forgetting all about it:(
Thanks for reminding me.

Enbrethiliel said...


Those are excellent quotes! I think they really help you sell the book. =)

(Incidentally, some of my favourite reads from the library were books only I had checked out in all the time they had been there! No tracking down fellow readers for me . . . =( )

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners- It gave me a much better understanding of why her mother acts the way she does in TGC.

Captain - It does, there are bits in Texas and Chicago, but it's mainly in Arizona.

Book Quoter - I hope you like it!

Enbrethiliel - That's funny about the books. I feel like blogging has allowed me to connect with people who have read some of the more obscure things I've read. It's like finding a secret club.

LindyLouMac said...

I found The Glass Castle an interesting but annoying read so I should definitely look out for this one!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

LindyLou - An annoying read, interesting. I'm curious why it struck you that way.