Half Broke Horses by Jeannette WallsJeannette Wallss memoir The Glass Castle was nothing short of spectacular (Entertainment Weekly). Now, in Half Broke Horses, she brings us the story of her grandmother, told in a first-person voice that is authentic, irresistible, and triumphant.
Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did. So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Wallss no nonsense, resourceful, 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, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car (I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didnt need to be fed if they werent working, and they didnt leave big piles of manure all over the place) and fly a plane. And, with her husband Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannettes 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 didnt fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesens Out of Africa or Beryl Markhams West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix audiences everywhere.
Half Broke Horses
Holy cow. Lily Casey Smith is bound to be spittin' mad. As in: mad enough that nails and pine shards are ricocheting around beneath the arid Southwest soil as she flips in her grave, for she was never a woman inclined to take things lying down. She is, after all, remembered for firing a shotgun over the shoulder of a Mormon elder who glared at her rather too intensely; pistol-whipping her first husband after discovering his concurrent wife and family; and berating a bunch of biddies who had the audacity to complain when she up-ended them while taxiing them across the desert in her hearse. You ride [a horse], you got to know how to fall, and you drive, you got to know how to crash.
CEFS is a blog and podcast. Established in , we are now a serialized site, with new content generally published monthly. We hope you enjoy! Walls' "true life novel" presents the events in the life of Lily Casey Smith, a colorful and fascinating person spicing the pages of this book. Growing up in west Texas where horses and buckboards were the only mode of transportation, Lily learned to live tough, face obstacles and come out swinging regardless of what she faced. Her father spouted philosophy like a flash flood of insight that went straight into the fiber that made Lily Casey one of the strongest, most durable individuals in Texas. Lily's mother, though, stood in stark contrast to her father.
The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. For readers who loved The Glass Castle , as I did, this "true-life novel" takes us farther back in time and up the genetic life-stream on which Walls's improvident parents floated their merry way. The first-person story begins with a flash flood; children in what might well be a family tree, clinging to the branches after a narrow escape from drowning, looking down on floodwaters rampaging across a dry land. What better metaphor? Lily's story begins there and goes on at about the same pace into tornados, half-broke horses, a hard-bought education, Chicago, a family suicide, bootlegging, two marriages and life on a ranch in New Mexico with small children in hand.
There is never any doubt about where Lily stands. When we reached the cottonwood, I pushed Buster up to the lowest branch, and he pulled Helen into the tree behind him. I shimmied up and wrapped my arms around Helen, just as a wall of water, about six feet high and pushing rocks and limbs in front of it, slammed into the cottonwood, dousing all three of us. The tree shuddered and bent so far over that you could hear wood cracking, and some lower branches were torn off. In Texas, he raised and trained coach horses for people willing to pay for the best.