Sunday, March 21, 2010

HALF BROKE HORSES:REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
HALF BROKE HORSES

BY JEANETTE WALLS

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Jeannette Walls's 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 Walls's 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 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 Jim, she 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. 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 Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix audiences everywhere.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and grew up in the southwest and Welch, West Virginia. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York City for twenty years. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, a triumphant account of overcoming a difficult childhood with her dysfunctional but vibrant family, has been a New York Times bestseller for over three years. A publishing sensation around the world, The Glass Castle has sold more than 2.5 million copies in the U.S. and has been translated into twenty-two languages. Walls is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Christopher Award for helping to "affirm the highest values of the human spirit,” as well as the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and the Books for Better Living Award. The Glass Castle was chosen as Elle magazine's book of the year. Walls lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.

MY REVIEW:


In THE GLASS CASTLE, Jeannette Walls wrote an amazingly brave memoir about growing up in her somewhat eccentric family in which she dealt with things that most people would find unimaginable and horrific. And yet, the story was inspiringly written with humor and inconceivable candor, while dealing with things that most of us can’t imagine. I would think not many of us pass a homeless person on the street and then suddenly realize it is your mother.

With the success and popularity of THE GLASS CASTLE, one can only imagine the pressure Jeannette Walls must have felt in telling another story. And yet, Walls dealt with her personal revelations and now seems to transition easily on with HALF BROKE HORSES. Here she takes what she learned from her memoir and has decided that many of the people in her story would make for interesting stories themselves. And so, as a kind of prequel to her memoir THE GLASS CASTLE, she now has written a true-life novel about her grandmother Lily Casey Smith.

Telling the story through Lily’s first person voice, Walls uses what she knows of her grandmother and what she can imagine to weave a story of the kind of woman our country was built on. In that Jeanette Walls was about eight years old when her grandmother died, she takes what she remembers being told by Lily and then interprets it in her own way. She almost becomes Lily as she writes of the spunky, practical, hard working woman who left home to begin teaching at the age of fifteen. Riding a pony all alone some 500 miles, she makes it to her job and one is left to wonder how that is possible when we won’t let a child that age even drive yet.

As you follow Lily through that first job in its one-room school house, to marrying her Jim, we find out what this gal is really made of. She tells Jim before they marry that she has two requests and one is to be partners in whatever they do, and the second request is that although he is a Mormon, she asks him to take only one wife. In a charming response, Jim tells her she is about all the woman he can handle. And from there, Lily’s story continues to a time when she is running a 180,000 acre ranch in Arizona and raising Rose Mary, who readers of course met in THE GLASS CASTLE, and her brother.

The Smiths live though floods and drought, tornadoes and the Great Depression. And as you read more about Jeannette’s mother Rose Mary growing up, you see into her life and background. What amazes me about this book, in somewhat the same way when I have read and taught students many years about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, is just how much these women lived through and saw in their lifetimes. From riding ponies and Conestoga wagons to driving in cars and seeing planes take off. From making their own clothing from a bolt of cloth to hearing the news of Hiroshima, you feel and imagine just what these lives really were like. It is awe inspiring to me all of what women like Lily lived through and Walls presents it in HALF BROKE HORSES in a superlatively written book. Walls writing is amazing as she is able to tell about human emotion in such a clear, concise manner and lead the reader through an engaging and inspiring story created with amazing literary results.

BOOK CLUB AND READING GUIDE:

A wonderful book for book clubs to read, Simon and Schuster provides a wonderful resource for those wishing to discuss HALF BROKE HORSES. The BOOK CLUB AND READING GUIDE starts with this introduction.

"
This reading group guide for Half Broke Horses includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book."

You can go HERE to see all the parts of the discussion guide but I thought I would post just the regular discussion questions for they are even good to think about if you are reading the book on your own. There are other questions as well geared toward those people who also read THE GLASS WALL. My own book club read this book and we all enjoyed it (which doesn't usually happen), and we were able to use much of the Reading Guide's questions and suggestions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Jeannette Walls has said that she tried writing this book in the third person but that it didn’t work for her. Do you think you are closer to Lily because you get her story in her own voice? Did you “see” Lily Casey Smith as real? What is your response to the first person voice of the book?

2. When Lily’s father dies, she and Rosemary drive his body from Tucson back to the ranch in West Texas. Rosemary is embarrassed to be seen driving with a corpse and ducks down in the car when they stop at a red light (pg. 198). “Life’s too short, honey,” Lily tells Rosemary, “to worry what other people think of you.” What does Lily’s reaction to this behavior show about her character? Does she give much credence to what other people think of her? What effect do you think her mother’s attitude had on Rosemary?

3. Following Helen’s suicide, Lily says, “When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they're doing is passing it on to those they leave behind” (pg. 113). Do you agree with this statement?

4. Lily seems willing to sacrifice everything to defend her principles and the rights of others. On more than one occasion, she is fired from a teaching position for refusing to back down from what she believes in. Do you applaud Lily’s moral conviction in these instances? Or did you hope that Lily would learn to compromise?

5. Lily has high expectations for her children, from sending them off to boarding school despite their protests to enforcing strict rules for keeping animals as pets. When Rosemary falls in love with a wild horse and asks her mother if she can keep it, Lily replies, “The last thing we need around here is another half-broke horse” (pg. 190). How might this statement apply to Lily’s children as well? Are Lily’s expectations of her children particularly high or rather a reflection of the times? Why do you think this phrase was chosen as the title of the book?

6. When a group of Brooklyn ladies visits the ranch, Rosemary and Lily take them for a car ride they’ll never forget. Lily concludes their encounter by saying, “You ride, you got to know how to fall, and you drive, you got to know how to crash” (pg. 175). How does this statement apply to Lily’s life as a whole? What does she mean by knowing “how to fall”?

7. Discuss Lily’s husband Jim. How does his personality complement her strong nature?

8. While attempting to prevent the ranch from flooding, Lily tells Rosemary, “Do the best you can...That's all anyone can do.” Her instructions are echoed by Jim's declaration: “We did a good job—good as we could” (pg. 152). Why do you think Lily and Jim have both adopted this philosophy? To which other instances in their lives are they likely to have applied this rationale?

9. Lily comes off as tough and resilient, but there are moments in this book of vast heartbreak, where you see her fa├žade crack. How does the author handle the death of Lily’s friend in Chicago? Her first husband’s duplicity? Her sister’s suicide? Her suspicions of her husband Jim?

10. Walls calls Half Broke Horses a “true life novel.” In her author’s note, she explains why. Do you agree with this label? What do you think of the “true life” genre?

11. “Helen’s beauty, as far as I was concerned, had been a curse, and I resolved that I would never tell Rosemary she was beautiful” (pg. 119). Examine Lily’s relationship with her daughter, Rosemary, and, in The Glass Castle, Rosemary’s relationship with Jeannette. How does each generation try to compensate for the one before? How does each mother try to avoid the mistakes or pain imposed upon her by her own mother?

GIVEAWAY
THANKS TO KATE AND THE FINE PEOPLE
AT SCRIBNER IMPRINTS AND FRIENDS
AT SIMON AND SCHUSTER PUBLISHING,
I HAVE 2 COPIES OF THIS WONDERFUL
BOOK TO GIVE AWAY. HERE IS WHAT
YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN A COPY!




--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!


HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT OF THE REVIEW FOR THIS BOOK AND IF THERE WAS SOMETHING IN IT THAT MADE YOU WANT TO READ HALF BROKE HORSES

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS BOOK FOR A BOOK CLUB GROUP AFTER READING THE INTRODUCTION AND GOING TO THE WEBSITE TO SEE ALL OF THE INFO FOR BOOK CLUB HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHETHER YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG AND IF SO, HOW. GIVE YOURSELF +2 MORE ENTRIES (ENTER TWO TIMES) IF YOU ARE ALREADY EITHER A GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT FOLLOWER, OR YOU FOLLOW ON NETWORKED BLOGS, OR YOU SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND LEAVE A LINK I CAN FOLLOW IN THE ENTRY

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, APRIL 2!


GOOD LUCK!

85 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I can't wait to read this book! Please don't enter me - I already own it.

Linda Kish said...

This book sounds like it would be really good.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

Although I am not in a book club, it does appear to be a good book for book clubs to read.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

This book sounds wonderful and it is also making me want to read the Glass Castle also. I love reading books about "the olden days".

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

I follow via GFC for sure.

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

Rss subscriber also

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

I follow you on networked blogs also.

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

I am not part of a book club but I see how it would make you pay close attention when reading. I always thought it would be neat to be a part of one, but time does not allow that for me.

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

Wise Owl, Editor said...

I would very much like to win this book.
I think your review was excellent.
I am a follower.

Eileen
wiseowlreviews@aol.com

Bethie said...

I read the Glass Castle and loved it. Reading the review makes me want to read the grandmother's story.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

I think this would be a great book for a book club. There are so many aspects that can be discussed.
\
lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

I follow on GFC

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

traveler said...

This book appeals to me greatly for its amazing story, the woman whose courage and life has been depicted so well. Thanks for this great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

This book would be excellent for a book club. Great topic and discussions. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Margie said...

Your review definitely sparks my interest in this book. I enjoy reading about hard-working, independent women.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

This sounds like a good book club selection. There are several good questions to discuss. I think the idea of following the character with a map is good...and also the suggestion of renting a movie about this era.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

entry #2
-current follower via GFC, and email subscriber
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

entry #1
-current follower via GFC, and email subscriber
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

amandawk said...

I want to win this because Glass Castle was amazing.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

amandawk said...

I think this would be very good for book clubs.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

amandawk said...

I am already a follower with Googlefriend connect.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great review! I love learning about how women cope, especially in the past. Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

For a book club, I love the idea of a map. My husband used maps when he was reading Lonesome Dove, and it really enhanced the experience for him.

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I subscribe to your blog on Google Reader.

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I follow your blog on Google Friend Connect

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Lisa R said...

would love a chance at "Half Broken Horses". I can't wait to read both of Wall's books. Was able to get my hands on "The Glass Castle" from PBS. I've loved reading about pioneer women since Laura Ingalls. "Riding 500 miles on a pony" sounds like something my 92 year old father-in-law would tell.

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Kristen said...

I would love to read this one. The notion of how incredibly self-sufficient her grandmother was is intriguing to me.

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

Kristen said...

I think this would be a good book for book clubs because of all the issues that they could discuss.

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

Kristen said...

I am a subscriber through Google Reader.

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

Lisa R said...

I think this book would be great as a
book club selection. I can see so many angles to tackle this book that would really get a discussion going. Many of us from this area had grandparents or great grandparents that worked tobacco farmland and faced similar hardships with the weather and lack of good medical care. They all had and raised 10 to 15 kids( many dying at an early age) as much to be unpaid labor as anything else.

alterlisa AT yahoo Dot com
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

Lisa R said...

blogged
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/p/more-recent-giveaways-throughout-land.html

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Lisa R said...

twitter
@alterlisa
http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2010/03/half-broke-horsesreview-and-giveaway.html

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

Lisa R said...

Facebook
Lisa Ann Richards http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2010/03/half-broke-horsesreview-and-giveaway.html

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

Lisa R said...

Yes, I'm a loyal follower

alterlisa At yahoo DOT com
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

Lisa R said...

follow you on GFC
Lisa Richards/Lisa R


alterlisa At yahoo DOT com
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

Terri said...

Your review was very interesting and definitely encouraged me to enter and try to win a copy of this book. I read The Glass Castle and enjoyed it very much and would love to read this one. As you said, it is inspiring to read and hear about what women like this went through and how they did it. Thanks!

Terri said...

I follow your blog's feed in a reader.
tmp95 at comcast dot net

Terri said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/dahbou/status/10853216265
tmp95 at comcast dot net

Terri said...

I'm already a Google Friend Connect follower.
#2

Terri said...

I'm already a Google Friend Connect follower.
#1

Terri said...

I'm not a member of a book club but after reading the Intro and seeing all the information available for club members, it seems this would be a fantastic book to read as part of a club. There is certainly a lot to discuss about the characters in both this and The Glass Castle.

M. said...

don't enter me - just want to say this book is EXCELLENT, read for book club and generated huge discussion. highly recommend

Vera said...

I LOVE Glass Castle and can't wait to read the prequel. I like that little tidbit in your review about her grandma asking to be the only wife! vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

I have subscribed via email for a while entry #2 vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

I have subscribed via email for a while entry #1 vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

I follow via GFC. vvperesk@gmail.com

Sandee61 said...

I'm a follower! (Google)

Sandee61

Muzzley56[at]aol[dot]com

Sandee61 said...

I read "Glass Castle" and its one of my favorite reads. I'd love to read "Half Broke Horses"...I've always enjoyed memoirs and this one looks really good. Please enter me in your giveaway. Thank you!

Sandee61

Muzzley56[at]aol[dot]com

Sandra K321 said...

This sounds like a book that successfully describes what it was like to live during that time and your review brings that out. It also makes Lily sound like a common sense/logical type person, which I like.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

Sandra K321 said...

I follow your blog via google.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

Colleen Turner said...

Thank you for the review! I absolutely loved Glass Castle and now that I know we hear more about her mom, such a strange character, I would love to read this book as well!
Thanks,
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

Hi,

I subscribe to your blog via email.
Thanks,
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

Hi,
I follow you via google connect and facebook.
Thanks,
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I think this would be such an interesting read for a book club because the book just screams for discussion! With such verying ideals and opinions regarding how to raise children and how people should act and be perceived it would really open the flood gates for good discussion.
Thanks,
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Pamela Keener said...

I subscribe to your blog via google reader & e-mail so I don't miss a single interesting blog.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290@comcast.net

Pamela Keener said...

This is a new to me author and the story of her grandmother feistiness makes me want to read it and learn.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290@comcast.net

g.g. said...

I'd love to read this because I like historical fiction

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

g.g. said...

I follow by subscribing via email

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

g.g. said...

I am a Google Friend Connect follower

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

g.g. said...

I am in a book club and it sounds like one that we would have a lot of discussion about

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

Sue said...

I enjoyed your review, but I read The Glass Castle and loved Jeanette Walls' writing. I can't wait for it. Thank you for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

bison61 said...

I like to read stories about strong women who live thru difficult events

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Jaime said...

great review and the first thing of interest that popped out at me was the how old Lily was when she started teaching
copperllama at yahoo dot com

Jaime said...

2 google follower
copperllama at yahoo dot com

Jaime said...

1 google follower
copperllama at yahoo dot com

nfmgirl said...

I already follow

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

Great review! I love stories like this. I just can't fathom how tough, yet satisfying, their lives were. Can you imagine riding a pony 500 miles to go to work?

Please count me in. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

Blogged:
http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/2010/03/book-giveaways-in-blogworld-03-26-10.html

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Rebecca O said...

I loved her memoir, The Glass Castle. I really like her writing style as well. I am looking forward to this book as well.

Thanks for the chance. bekki1820cb at gmail

Rebecca O said...

GFC follower. #2
bekki1820cb at gmail

Rebecca O said...

GFC follower. #1
bekki1820cb at gmail

Rebecca O said...

Follower/Subscriber via google reader. bekki1820cb at gmail

rubynreba said...

I also enjoyed The Glass Castle and think this would be a very good book.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I follow on google 2
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I follow on google 1
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Benita said...

I thought the review was fabulous. It was a great portrayal of the characterization in the book.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

It seems like a great book for a book club read. It's really interesting and there are so many aspects to be discussed as shown in the guiding questions.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

catss99 said...

i follow w google friends
catss99@yaoho.com

catss99 said...

I loved this author's first book! The part in your review about the tornados, droughts, floods, etc., caught my attention!
catss99@yahoo.com

catss99 said...

tweet
http://twitter.com/catss99/status/11410861296
catss99@yahoo.com

catss99 said...

follow w google friends entry 2
catss99@yahoo.com

Colleen Turner said...

The Bingo Bunny gave me an extra entry because I am a FB Fan!
candc320@gmail.com

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