What can I say? I loved this book. I hadn’t read it before selecting it for book club, which can sometimes be a risky maneuver. Luckily, it worked out.
Walls calls the book a true-life novel that tells the story of her grandmother. It recounts Lily’s experiences growing up on a cattle ranch where she is tasked with breaking horses. Then it follows Lily as she goes away to boarding school, takes a teaching job and then moves to the big city of Chicago. She moves around a few more times before starting her family and each segment of her life is filled with adventure and challenges Lily overcomes.
I love reading about innovative women and Lily was one of a kind. She was a hard worker and pretty crafty. She bootlegged liquor to help keep the family’s garage afloat during rough times and she ran a taxi service while teaching school—where she also worked as the bus driver and janitor. One of my friends in my real-life reading group (i.e. a group that meets face-to-face and not via the internet) commented that reading about Lily made her feel lazy. I agree. Sometimes packing up my son for a trip to Target wears me out. Lily took two small kids on a multi-day expedition via horseback just to survey the property lines of the ranch she and her husband were managing. I can’t imagine how you pack for that.
The dust jacket of the book calls it Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, which may explain why I liked it so much. It also made me think of my own grandmother who oversaw the family ranch (although, I don’t think my grandma ever broke any horses). She sure looked good on one though, didn’t she? Forgive the large picture–I’ve been trying to reduce the size, but it has taken up too much time and now I’ve decided I will just have to live with it.
I’m sure she had to learn how to manage her fair share of cowboys and ranch hands. Here she is whistling to try and keep someone in line, I’m sure.
I haven’t read Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, but after reading this one, I definitely plan to pick it up. And, I want to know, if you’ve read Half Broke Horses, what were your favorite parts? Can you relate to Lily?