Customer Reviews for

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

45 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

A winner

We follow the life of Lily Casey Smith, born in a dugout in Texas in 1901. A larger than life character with more gumption and common sense than are usually bestowed upon one person, Lily is not only a survivor of hard times, but she learns how to come out ahead when fa...
We follow the life of Lily Casey Smith, born in a dugout in Texas in 1901. A larger than life character with more gumption and common sense than are usually bestowed upon one person, Lily is not only a survivor of hard times, but she learns how to come out ahead when faced with adversity. Not one to feel sorry for herself, she has no use for weak people (or interest in what other people think of her). Lily overcomes a poor childhood in what was basically a dysfunctional family, a first marriage to a bigamist, and a lack of education (to name just a few of the problems she dealt with). Her second marriage, her children, and the ranch make up most of the story. I definitely recommend checking this out. Another book that you must read if you're a fan of Jeannette Walls, Augusten Burroughs, or memoirs in general (make sure you start reading it early because you won't sleep until you've finished it!) is "I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE."

posted by Allison_Davis on October 6, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

entertaining

Not a bad narrative regarding life of an amazing pioneer. While there was nothing to rivet the reader in the way of a plot, it gave insight to the struggles of life as the 1800's gave way to the 1900's and how things changed by mid-century. It was an interesting read. ...
Not a bad narrative regarding life of an amazing pioneer. While there was nothing to rivet the reader in the way of a plot, it gave insight to the struggles of life as the 1800's gave way to the 1900's and how things changed by mid-century. It was an interesting read.

Perhaps it had special meaning to me because my own parents (as children) settled in the SE corner of New Mexico prior to statehood. The tales of ranching in a desert area rang true. While in today's world, it's inconceivable to allow a teenager to head "that direction" for 500 miles, my dad told similar stories and this narrative helped me to understand his eye-opening tales were more the norm for the day. It was a time when babies left infancy and practically entered adulthood with very little chance of childhood in the middle; a time when survival required using your wits with very little margin for error; a time when your word was your bond and a handshake was a contract.

posted by WaryDreamer on January 10, 2010

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  • Posted October 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A winner

    We follow the life of Lily Casey Smith, born in a dugout in Texas in 1901. A larger than life character with more gumption and common sense than are usually bestowed upon one person, Lily is not only a survivor of hard times, but she learns how to come out ahead when faced with adversity. Not one to feel sorry for herself, she has no use for weak people (or interest in what other people think of her). Lily overcomes a poor childhood in what was basically a dysfunctional family, a first marriage to a bigamist, and a lack of education (to name just a few of the problems she dealt with). Her second marriage, her children, and the ranch make up most of the story. I definitely recommend checking this out. Another book that you must read if you're a fan of Jeannette Walls, Augusten Burroughs, or memoirs in general (make sure you start reading it early because you won't sleep until you've finished it!) is "I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE."

    45 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Cart Before the Horse?

    "Half Broke Horses" is the prequel to "The Glass Castle," Walls' first book. Although it doesn't matter which you read first, I would recommend reading HBH before GC as it gives perspective on the background of this strange but fascinating family. Walls writes with candor and humor and certainly captures the spirit of her grandmother and the time period of the wild west. This is a vibrant biography-cum-novel of her spunky grandmother living in the olden days who was a womens' libber before it became fashionable to be one. Highly recommended.

    16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining

    Not a bad narrative regarding life of an amazing pioneer. While there was nothing to rivet the reader in the way of a plot, it gave insight to the struggles of life as the 1800's gave way to the 1900's and how things changed by mid-century. It was an interesting read.

    Perhaps it had special meaning to me because my own parents (as children) settled in the SE corner of New Mexico prior to statehood. The tales of ranching in a desert area rang true. While in today's world, it's inconceivable to allow a teenager to head "that direction" for 500 miles, my dad told similar stories and this narrative helped me to understand his eye-opening tales were more the norm for the day. It was a time when babies left infancy and practically entered adulthood with very little chance of childhood in the middle; a time when survival required using your wits with very little margin for error; a time when your word was your bond and a handshake was a contract.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 12, 2010

    What Next?

    I loved "The Glass Castle". I was drawn in and could not leave until I finished the last page. I recommended it to everyone. "Half Broke Horses" didn't have the same pull, but it is a terrific read. I fell in love with so many of the characters, especially Lilly Casey Smith. She was a woman who didn't let anything get in her way. She just changed the direction she was headed, but never gave up on life. Getting to know Lilly gives you an insight into why Jeannette Walls is the survivor she is. I can't imagine what she will write next; I will probably read it.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2010

    Quite a ride!

    This tale of the writer's grandmother, a ranching, airplane flying, teacher finding her own way in the Southwest of the turn of the 20th century, should entertain and inspire and humble anyone. My husbands grandmother went to the same Sisters of Loretto school that Lily Casey Smith went to about the same time and it made me stop and think a lot more about where the family had come from. A lot of hard, scrappy work, by people who didn't complain about it, and who were truly inventive and grateful and connected to this earth, quite a lot more than some of us today who claim to be environmentalists. Not that I'm against environmentalists, but sometimes we do act like we invented the idea and these old ranchers and farmers of days past had tremendous respect for the land, resources and animals, because they dealt with them on a life and death basis every day. Jeannette Walls other book, The Glass Castle is also great. I hope she writes more.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Engaging story of the place, time, lives

    I previously enjoyed The Glass Castle, and Half Broke Horses is even better. The characters literally come to life on the pages, and Ms. Walls does a great job of weaving her vivid imagination with fact. The reader shares the ups and downs of the hard (but ultimately rewarding) lives of these characters. I found myself feeling sorrow, anger, and joy throughout the novel. A great read that holds the reader by the heart!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    Good Read

    I read and loved Walls' first book, "The Glass Castle," so I was anxious to read her "true life" biography of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Lily was one tough nut; in those days you had to be if you were going to survive. She was a woman before her time in many ways and did what she had to do to make her way in the hard, gritty life out West. Her marriage to Big Jim was not the result of a typical moonlight and roses courtship, but you felt there was a sincere love and respect between the two. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a true "biography" because it does read like one and made me wonder just how much and what was the "true" contained in those pages.

    After reading "The Glass Castle," I came away admiring Walls for the respect she shows her parents eventhough she and her siblings had a very rough childhood. Her parents both had such serious issues that it should have given them pause in their desire to have a family, but they had their dreams and talents too which did, in many ways, benefit and inspire those children. That seems to be where Walls has decided to put her focus - in her skilled and thoughtful writing of "Glass Castle", she shows a compassionate understanding of her parents; and pays tribute to her grandmother and her history in "Half Broke Horses."

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

    F Half broke horses...

    This book,although comical at times, was a disappointment. I somehow felt i had wasted the time it took to ref

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    Wonderful Author!

    I really enjoy reading this author's work. If you haven't read The Glass Castle then you should do so, I enjoyed it so much that I bought Half-Broke Horses and downloaded it onto my new Nook.

    Personally, I enjoy reading about the way people lived in the days gone by, but Jeanette has a real talent for bringing the characters to life making it all the more consuming and harder to stop reading. Whenever I'm done with one of her books I can't help doing a search for more of her works.

    If you loved The Glass Castle then you are going to enjoy reading what Granny's life was like.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Half-Broke Horses is a Delight

    Jeannette Walls called this book a novel because she had to use her imagination to fill in some gaps in her knowledge, but the basic story is that of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. And what a character she is! Breaking horses before she was 6, helping run a ranch at 11, traveling far from home to teach in tiny, remote towns at 15, dealing with a worthless husband who was not what he seemed while still a young woman, learning to fly in the early days of aviation...Lily was an entirely original, unique personality and her story kept me enthralled from beginning to end!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    just okay

    I thought that the story was interesting for me because I know nothing of ranches or horses or having a mother who played lady like this one. I still am skeptical about some of the tales told here, even though the author swears she could authenticate them all from another member of the family.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    Half Broke Horses

    Loved the book. Read her first one years ago, couldn't wait to get this one. Lily Casey, what a person she was! The beginning of the book, it grabbed you right away after that flood. She was a survivor, never felt sorry for herself.

    Her sister, if that had happened to her today, it's nothing. And her dad, with that gimp, I can picture him, can't you?

    Lily Casey, nothing she couldn't do. The word "can't" was not in her vocabulary.

    Pittsburgh Frank

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    Wonderful Explanation for readers of The Glass Castle

    Very enjoyable reading of past years. Reminds one of what the West was like in the last century.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2014

    Not your everyday story!

    I enjoyed reading Jeannette Walls book, Half Broke Horses. It sends you on a journey with Lily, Jeannette's grandmother through some of the harder times in our history. Through it all, Lily is resilient, resourceful and at times my hero! She let nothing stand in her way and she was a true character. I want to read her other book now to compare Lily and Rosemary's mothering methods.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Read this whenever you are feeling sorry for your non-perfect life.

    This author is amazingly wonderful. Her character as a human being should be crop dusted over the entire world where people feel life is losing it's common sense....Read her "Ice Castles" also and become more connected with her and her family!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Wow!

    What an incredible story. Beautifully written - you'll shake your head at the tenacity of the characters and wipe tears from the turmoil and heartache. After reading this book, I purchased Walls' "The Glass Castle" and "The Silver Star".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Best book I've ever read!

    I think this is the best book I've ever read, it's for sure the first book that as soon as I was finished reading it, I started over and read it again. Lily Casey Smith was amazing from childhood to older adult, she took on life in a determined manner, she took plenty of licks and kept on going. She didn't whine or cry, she picked herself up continued on with her life. There are so many details and lessons in this book, I think everyone should read it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    Love her

    Couldn't put it down. I was afraid i wouldn't enjoy it as much The Glass Castle. I was wrong, i loved it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    wonderful!

    the only sad thing is that it is too short! i want more!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    This IS a story!

    Heart warming and heart breaking with laughs and tears in proportion. I read it while visiting my sister, a true "bookworm" and 30-year teacher of high school english (now retired). As she puttered in her garden I would walk around reading passages from my nook. Almost without realizing it I had read nearly the entire book outloud to her. It was the most enjoyable "read" either of us could recall.

    The life and times of Lily Casey Smith was absolutely enthralling. The succinct prose of Ms Walls always a delight and most appreciated.

    Steve Tidrick

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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