I liked this book, and I didn’t. Probably if I was a kid reading it for the first time, it would be one unable to shake from memory. I saw it compared to Of Mice and Men, and I was reminded of The Red Pony also. It’s about a kid named Roy who’s been in foster care until his older brother takes him out (without going through the proper channels) and they head out on the road. The older brother Joe has a history of getting into trouble- especially when he’s been drinking- and there’s hints that he plays dangerously with fire. That’s literal. So they approach a ranch where Joe gets work- he’s got a natural way with horses and is excellent at shoeing them. In fact, for me this was the most interesting part of the story, ha- reading how Joe taught his kid brother the importance of keeping a horse’s feet sound and how much their gait could indicate problems, etc. Roy is given an unbroken pony to train and ride (amazing how fast he does so, having nil experience!) All is well for a time and the boys are feeling settled and comfortable at the ranch, but then a local truant officer comes asking questions- why isn’t Roy in school? Then a mountain lion attacks Roy’s pony and it almost dies from the resulting infection. Later there’s a horse race at a rodeo show, and in the end a spectacular tragedy involving a barn fire. Which felt over the top to me, a really horrific scene how could kids read this and not be permanently affected? Well, I was fairly riveted to the page that’s for sure but the ending upset me.