Reader reviews and comments on Half Broke Horses, plus links to write your own review.

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Half Broke Horses

A True-Life Novel

By Jeannette Walls

Half Broke Horses
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Oct 2009,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2010,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

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Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer

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There are currently 7 reader reviews for Half Broke Horses
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Avid reader (07/10/12)

Half-broke Horses
I read the entirety of the book, it was interesting enough to keep my attention and I'm not here to complain about the manner in which it was written, for all intents and purposes it was well written and very engaging, loved it up until the part where she herself becomes a parent. I did not appreciate (true or not) the admission to happily slapping and beating a 9 year old into submission (no one should ever enjoy hurting a child), nor the many accounts of her happily beating other children (and thinking this made her a good teacher) including beating her own daughter with a belt "as something dark came over her," and she "realized she had taken it too far." And various other related parenting passages of her taking something way too far, mostly to save face. To be fair, her temper made her an inefficient teacher and mother, it's a parenting failure, not a success story. In the 1940's her actions may not have carried as much weight, but in this day in age, it would most certainly have been abusive.
I appreciate honesty, but I do think authors have to be careful about portraying harmful parenting in a positive light. But I loved that she tried to teach Mormon girls that they had no obligation to marry young, and that they could go on to become anything their heart desired if they were brave enough to pursue it. I would also love to read a book about the main characters daughter Rosemary. I loved her, she was treated harshly, and instead of being a victim, she "taught" her mother that she wouldn't be brutalized into submission, and that all of the pain her mother put her through just made her more determined to do exactly the opposite of what she wanted.
Suzanne (11/17/11)

And the winner is.......
Jeannette Walls writes that she honestly has to call her story a novel. She writes about her grandmother's life in the first person, recalling her distinctive voice. After her family interviews she had to use her imagination to write the details of Lily Casey Smith's life. I loved this book. It was natural, interesting and full of adventure and so very believable.
Dene McIntosh (11/01/10)

Just Good Horse Sense
Love the book the first time I read it and the second time, I made notes for my book club review. Also, have recommended it to many of my friends who report that they thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is full of life's lessons that can be applied to everyday life today. I'm looking forward to Jeanette's next book.
radodd (09/11/10)

What a ride!
I haven't even finished this book yet, but I can write the review already. I've loved every page. This would actually make a great movie, in the "O Brother" genre. I've so much enjoyed her adventures on horseback and in the hearse. I never knew what to expect when I picked this book up to continue reading. It's one of those books where you slow down toward the end because you don't want the adventures to end. It's also too baffling to have been made up.

Whimsical and cheerful, descriptive and entertaining to say the least. Bravo!
MJ (05/04/10)

Half Broke Horses
I could not put this book down. It was an incredible story of a very tenacious, independent and goal oriented woman at a time when woman were expected to be submissive to a man's ambition only. I loved Lily's toughness when it came to drawing the line between right and wrong. I smiled when she became indignant about her first husband attempted to get her to pity him because he just couldn't help it if he wanted to marry her too. She could see through to the truth and didn't have a problem letting anyone know it. The personal hygiene issues, like filthy clothes, were a little alarming. What a life!
Roberta Liford (03/25/10)

Don't Hillbillies Have A Regional Accent?
After the Glass Castle, her 2nd book was a disappointment (notice it has not maintained any position on the best seller lists as has the Glass Castle). Anyway, I stopped reading when the ladies from Brooklyn appeared. This segment was so ill conceived, and I was so annoyed by her attempt at a detailed portrayal of their "Brooklyn" accents, that I stopped reading at that point. Having been born and raised in Brooklyn, no one in my family, nor anyone I knew, ever spoke with such a Dees Dem and Dose accent. There are people everywhere who speak like that (a class distinction perhaps), not necessarily only from Brooklyn. What's more, hillbillies and others from various regions of the U.S. also have accents -- so if she were going to be explicit about accents, how come she chose to include only what she thought was a "Brooklyn" accent and not any others in their conversations? It seems everyone in her book, including the cowboys spoke perfect English. Half Broke Horses will not make it's way into my permanent library.
Cherry Frasier (01/30/10)

I love this book!
This is the best book I've read for a long time. I was stunned by the tenacity of Rosemarie. I hate reading books that you can predict the outcome in the first ten pages. This was an entertaining, enlightening read. I will look for more books from Jeannette Walls.
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