In her latest book Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel, Jeannette Walls introduces her maternal grandmother Lily Casey Smith, an intelligent, resourceful and hardworking woman. The book is written in the first person and is based on Lily’s remarkable story as Walls learnt it from her mother and other family members.
Lily’s life is a chronicle of an indomitable woman on America's western frontier. Lily broke and raced horses, ran ranches, taught school, flew airplanes, played poker, raised two children, and sold moonshine during Prohibition. Admirably, Lily had a passion for learning and understood the importance of education. She started her first teaching job at the age of fifteen after making a solo five-hundred-mile horse trip to become an itinerant replacement teacher in northern Arizona.
Jeanette Walls has proven again to be an excellent story teller. This book draws you in quickly and keeps you turning the page. The chapters are short and mostly chronological, the descriptions of the Southwest are vivid and the characters are rich, colorful and well developed. I highly recommend Half Broke Horses as well as Walls’ bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, which reveals her unconventional upbringing. Both books are excellent choices for book groups and generated great discussion among “Edgerton Book Ends” (Edgerton Neighborhood Library book group).