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Half Broke Horses

by Jeannette Walls

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3262262,325 (3.96)1 / 229
A true-life novel about Lily Casey Smith (the author's grandmother) who at age six helped her father break horses, at age fifteen left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother runs a vast ranch in Arizona where she survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy--but despite a life of hardscrabble drudgery still remains a woman of indomitable spirit.… (more)
  1. 11
    These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (Electablue)
  2. 11
    Last of the Saddle Tramps by Mesannie Wilkins (SunnySD)
    SunnySD: If you enjoyed Jeannette Walls' tale of her grandmother's adventures, but wish it had been nonfiction, Wilkin's journey across country with her four-footed companions will be right up your alley.
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 Westerns by Women: Half Broke Horses1 unread / 1brickhorse, May 2010

» See also 229 mentions

English (224)  Spanish (1)  All languages (225)
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
Story of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey, and her life of teaching and ranching in the desert near the Grand Canyon in Arizona in the early 1900s. At first, I thought this book was non-fiction, and it is based on a real person and her actual experiences, but Walls describes it as a novel, stating in the Author’s Note, “since I don’t have the words from Lily herself, and since I have also drawn on my imagination to fill in details that are hazy or missing…the only honest thing to do is call the book a novel.” It is written in first person as if her grandmother is telling her life story.

Lily Casey is a colorful character who led an eventful life. The book is filled with family anecdotes of her adventures such as:
- Surviving multiple 500-mile journeys alone by horse across the desert at age 15
- Learning to fly an airplane at a time when air travel was fairly new
- Teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in several small towns
- Selling moonshine out of the back door of her house to make extra cash during Prohibition
- Turning a hearse into a school bus
- Figuring out how to capture water in the desert for the cattle ranch she and her husband managed

I found this book entertaining and enjoyed “getting to know” Lily Casey. It provides a good idea of what life was like back in those times, with lots of mentions of how people lived – no indoor plumbing, listening to the radio, the hard work in getting almost anything accomplished. I think the author does a great job of capturing the voice of her grandmother and could almost hear her speaking in her no-nonsense manner. I have not yet read The Glass Castle, but this book provides a good foundation of how Walls’ mother was influenced by her grandmother and their early life on the ranch, so I look forward to reading it.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Bookclub book, 2016? loved it ( )
  PatLibrary123 | Aug 9, 2022 |
9788483650134
  archivomorero | Jun 27, 2022 |
Walls; novel is told in the first person but is based on her grandmother's life, growing up in Texas, living in Chicago and then ranching in Arizona.
  ritaer | May 4, 2022 |
I enjoyed reading this book. I don’t think I’ll want to reread it; it didn’t have that lasting quality for me. But I recommend it for a fascinating look at Arizona in the mid-20th century when the Wild West was still a going concern. ( )
  muumi | Mar 5, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
The pert style of “Half Broke Horses” is much more repetitive and grating than the more spontaneous-sounding voice Ms. Walls used to describe her own life.

But the author comes from a family that knew how to lure horses using grain, not rope. And she has inherited a version of that skill. So she has managed to make her second book almost as inviting as her first, even though its upright heroine is never as startling as Ms. Walls’s parents were.
 
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Epigraph
It was the great north wind that made the Vikings.
—Old Norwegian saying
Dedication
This book is dedicated
to all teachers,
and especially to

Rose Mary Walls,
Phyllis Owens, and
Esther Fuchs

And in memory of
Jeannette Bivens and
Lily Casey Smith
First words
Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.
Quotations
I never met a kid I couldn't teach. Every kid was good at something, and the trick was to find out what it was, then use it to teach him everything else.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

A true-life novel about Lily Casey Smith (the author's grandmother) who at age six helped her father break horses, at age fifteen left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother runs a vast ranch in Arizona where she survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy--but despite a life of hardscrabble drudgery still remains a woman of indomitable spirit.

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Book description
Publisher Comments:
Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle was nothing short of spectacular (Entertainment Weekly). Now she brings us the story of her grandmother — told in a voice so authentic and compelling that the book is destined to become an instant classic.

"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. 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 ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") 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 is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. It will transfix readers everywhere.
Haiku summary
Hearse full of schoolkids?

It's just their bus, don't worry

No dead kids! It's safe.

(mazeway)

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