Half-Broke Horses

"Most important thing in life... is learning how to fall."

{Photo from Simon and Schuster}

I may put the Slow in the Slow Reader's Book Club but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this clever true-life novel and didn't want to post until I could devote the appropriate amount of time to doing it justice.

I must preface this review by stating I was quite nervous to read this book and by asserting my love for Jeannette Walls' first novel, The Glass Castle. Although I didn't necessarily have "expectations" for her sophomore release, her writing in The Glass Castle was so powerful and the story was told so uniquely that I didn't quite know how she could follow it up with another story of her family. Thankfully, I can wholeheartedly confirm that these whatever non-expectations/expectations I had were surpassed; I devoured every snapshot of Lily Casey Smith's life.

Walls' writing sets the tone for the novel and resembles that of The Glass Castle. The voice is different but her uncanny ability to handle raw human interactions becomes a linking factor between the two novels. Her ability to address family stories that are both difficult and tragic so honestly and so candidly is amazing: her literary style and form is refreshing and - more importantly - real.

The novel, chronicling the life of such a unique female protagonist - Walls' maternal grandmother - touches on various layers of human nature and family dynamics. Although it can stand alone, the novel essentially adds another layer to the characters and stories that surfaced in The Glass Castle and those were exciting to uncover. I found myself become quite emotionally attached to Lily's story, particularly her relationship with her daughter: Jeannette's mother Rosemary. Although she's labelled it a "true-life novel" rather than a biographic piece of non-ficttion, Walls' depiction of her grandmother is so telling and so authentic its "genre" is irrelevant. A story about family, the ownership in the voice is what makes it work.

I am so thrilled to begin the Slow Readers' journey and really felt this was the perfect platform as I was able to sink my teeth into this novel. Above all, I have great respect for Jeanette Walls' willingness to share so openly as it inspired me to open some of the doors that I've 'closed' in my own life.

If you're looking for a good book (or books in this case) I suggest picking either one up. With that, I leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

"Dad was a philosopher and had what he called his Theory of Purpose, which held that everything in life had a purpose, and unless it achieved that purpose, it was just taking up space on the planet and wasting everybody's time."

Now, as aptly identified by a young Lily, we all must figure out what our Purpose is.

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