by C.S. Adler
I read this book in a hot bath, just under two hours. It\’s a horse story where the whole narrative arc is about how to procure treatment for an injured horse. It has a lot of difficult things going on: Jan\’s father has recently died in an accident, she and her mother are still grieving. They had to give up their large ranch house to live in the small \”casita\” that used to be for hired hands. Her mother still makes a living boarding and caring for other\’s horses, and taking guests on trail rides, while their original house has been converted into an assisted living home for the elderly. When Jan\’s horse goes lame it turns out to be more serious than just a bruise or sprain- he needs an operation. Jan\’s mother takes a second job but it still isn\’t enough for the cost. The girl is desperate to find a way to save her horse but can\’t think of anything. She\’s more distracted than usual from school, and can\’t relate to the other kids who don\’t seem to have any of the same worries (though one girl is nice to her and that might turn into a friendship). One day she\’s outside with her horse and meets two old ladies from the assisted living home, out for a walk. Mattie commiserates with Jan over the horse\’s condition, says she used to have a horse when she was young, and invites Jan to the house to see photos. Reluctantly Jan complies and to her surprise finds she rather likes the older woman. She visits her now and then, while still trying to figure out what to do: can she get a job herself? could she lease a \”share\” of her horse to someone who wants to ride and doesn\’t own one? It turns out that Mattie might have an answer to her problem, but then she worries about the morality of accepting the offer. This story surprised me with its depth, for such a short book it sure hits some serious issues. And I didn\’t even mention all of them! Have to leave the reader something to find out. There was only one conversation near the end of the book that struck me as awkward, the rest felt very real and easy to read.