Half Broke Horses

Half Broke Horses

A True-life Novel

Book - 2009
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Baker & Taylor
Presents a novel based on the life of the author's grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who learned to break horses in childhood, journeyed five hundred miles as a teen to become a teacher, and ran a vast ranch in Arizona with her husband while raising two children.

Blackwell North Amer
Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now she brings us the story of her grandmother -- told in a voice so authentic and compelling that the book is destined to become an instant classic.

"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, 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, all 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, 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. 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. It will transfix readers everywhere.

& Taylor

The author offers a novel based on the life of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who learned to break horses in childhood, journeyed 500 miles on a pony as a teen to become a teacher, and ran a vast ranch in Arizona with her husband while raising two children, including Rosemary Smith Walls, portrayed in the author's acclaimed The Glass Castle.

Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2009
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781416586289
Branch Call Number: FIC Walls
Characteristics: 272 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


From the critics

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Nov 21, 2018

Wonderfully done. This is also a "family tree" prequel to The Glass Castle.

Nicr Aug 12, 2018

Straightforward, entertaining account of politically incorrect, ever-controversial "Lily Casey, the mustang-breaking, poker-playing, horse-race-winning schoolmarm of Coconino County" (also rancher, pilot, etc.). "[H]ers is one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women that will always find an audience" (Publishers Weekly).

Jul 11, 2018

This is the re-creation of the life of her Jeanette Walls' maternal grand­mother, Lily Casey Smith, in the first half of the 20th century, and told in her grandmother’s voice. Anyone who loves the family stories of love and heartbreak in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books will also love this one.

JCLHeatherM Jul 08, 2018

"Anyone who thinks he's [she's] too small to make a difference has never been bit by a mosquito," - Lily Casey Smith

Lily Casey Smith was a pioneer (literally and figuratively) and continued to challenge the world she lived in when she felt convicted to do so. Wearing many hats as a mother, wife, teacher, rancher, and advocate, Lily never settled for second best and refused to give up (though there were many occasions when she could of).

As Jeannette Walls' maternal grandmother, Lily was a constant and consistent force in her granddaughter's life - her death when Jeannette was only eight years old left a great impact. Lily's legacy lives on through Walls' intimate novel about her life (mixing a little fiction to go along with established oral history).

Apr 09, 2018

Lily Casey Smith was an amazing person, let alone woman! I am glad her granddaughter, Jeannette Walls is an author who is capable of telling her story.

Nov 16, 2017

Wonderful, rich and engaging writing. True life story of survival and making something in life off very little or nothing. True human spirit on display. Don’t miss it!

Sep 13, 2017

Loved this book. It was engaging.

Aug 07, 2017

This fictional memoir of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls' maternal grandmother, starts out as a very interesting read about her childhood, being raised by two people who did not realize they were parents responsible for the care and welfare and education of their children. Dad was a trainer of carriage horses and the follower of all his money-making (but never very successful) schemes. Mom came from a genteel background and forever mourned the loss of her 'Gone with the wind' life. Lily's childhood was similar to that which Jeannette wrote about in 'Glass castles' with her own parents. Lily survived her upbringing by being very driven to take care of business, that business being working hard, managing the family finances to keep out of debt and save for whatever they needed, and following her own code of sucking it up and doing what was necessary. This does not explain how Rosemary, her daughter and Jeannette's mother, became the embodiment of her own grandparents - eternally believing that everything would always work out for the best, without any real care or attention from her. Lily's hope for Rosemary to learn by example did not pay off. Lily made me tired after a while with her 'I know best' attitude to life and those around her, and my attention to the story flagged even though the author's writing style did everything it could to carry me along with the narrative.

Jeannette Walls is one of my favorite authors! She tells the story of her grandmother's life as a strong, tenacious, spitfire of a woman living in West Texas and New Mexico in the early 1900s -- an inspiring heroine, no doubt! Has grit, beauty and wisdom I'll use for years. Recommended by Lisa

Jun 25, 2015

Fascinating story of Walls' grandmother, and much more bearable than The Glass Castle. That one tore at my heart, but this one offered hope, humor, and history.

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Dec 19, 2010

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Oct 22, 2010

Karlie85 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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Oct 22, 2010

"We're all just one step up from the beasts and one step down from the angels."


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