The first book by Jeannette Walls, The Class Castle, was magnificent. It was one of the best novels I read during my capstone experience my final semester of my undergrad experience. So when I saw that Half Broke Horses was out, I was excited, until I read its description. It just didn’t seem like my cup of tea. Then I joined a very informal book club, and this was the first book they picked, so I sucked it up and bought it online.
This is no Glass Castle, but that’s not to say it’s not amazing in its own right. The story of Lily Casey Smith is a fun one. One thing I love about the way Walls writes is her short, choppy chapters. Could she structure her material in such a way that the chapters were longer and fewer in number? Of course. But part of the charm is the smaller pieces of these stories, which make sense as a whole. It’s how life works — we are short and choppy, and these short, choppy pieces make up the whole of us.
I would have loved to know Lily. I didn’t always agree with what she did and said, but she is fun. Her story is fun. Her life, at least what is presented on the pages of Half Broke Horses, is fun, and I want to know her more and more. Unfortunately, that’s not possible,
The only thing that serviced as a serious distraction to me while I was reading was the voice. Maybe if I hadn’t read The Glass Castle, I wouldn’t’ve noticed. However, the voice of Lily occasionally gets lost in Jeannette Walls’ voice. Oh, the story is excellent and captivating regardless, but there are moments where I am acutely aware that it isn’t Lily who’s sharing her story with me, it’s her granddaughter. I can only imagine how difficult it is to tell the story of someone who lived 70 or more years ago, so I can’t blame her — but it’s just something to be aware of as you’re reading.
If you’re a fan of biographies or historical novels, then I recommend picking this book up!