Another Kind of Cowboy

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In Vancouver, British Columbia, two teenage dressage riders, one a spoiled rich girl and the other a closeted gay sixteen-year-old boy, come to terms with their identities and learn to accept themselves.
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Another Kind of Cowboy

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In Vancouver, British Columbia, two teenage dressage riders, one a spoiled rich girl and the other a closeted gay sixteen-year-old boy, come to terms with their identities and learn to accept themselves.
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Editorial Reviews

AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

Set on Vancouver Island, this tragicomedy follows two sixteen-year-old protagonists. Alex Ford's passion is "dancing with horses," or dressage. His financially challenged, alcoholic-headed family is delightfully dysfunctional; and his sexuality concerns him. Alex's third-person, limited chapters are interspersed by the first-person, egocentric narration of Cleo O'Shea, an incredibly wealthy dressage student at a riding academy where her "faulty decision-making" skills have landed her as punishment by continent-hopping, movie-producing parents. The lonely teens, an unlikely pair, come together through horsemanship. Juby's realistic protagonists are supported by many comic characters. Alex's bicycle serves as a pretend horse until his heterosexist father wins a Western pleasure horse, with tack, in a poker game. Aided by eccentric Aunt Grace, Alex switches from cowboy to dressage student, procuring a dressage horse from his father's sodden girlfriend. Issues beyond the horsey set include the search for one's societal niche. Cleo's path traverses drinking parties alongside heroin users and helping Alex realize his unspoken crush also likes him. An aging gay couple, retired from world-class riding and now role models for Alex, provide riding lessons. Juby's wit elicits both laughter and tears. The happy ending leaves this reader satisfied, although such a conclusion appears unlikely. Juby's book belongs in middle and high school, in good young adult sections, and on parents' gift lists. Readers will benefit from Juby's sharp eye and tight writing. Reviewer: Cynthia Winfield
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

School Library Journal

Gr 8-10- Alex Ford has always wanted a horse but never expected that his father would win one in a poker game. Turnip is definitely not a dream horse, but he does reciprocate the kindness that Alex shows him by performing to the best of his ability. They become a winning team in Western riding, but Alex has always dreamed of studying dressage. Several fortuitous circumstances help to make this a reality. A woman who is smitten with his father happens to have a dressage horse that she doesn't ride. A stable opens near him with two dressage trainers. He meets a girl, Cleo, who also becomes a dressage student and eventually a friend. The story alternates between Alex and Cleo. Cleo is privileged and rebellious; Alex is talented and self-effacing. He is also gay and has spent his teen years quietly struggling to understand and accept who he is but is concerned that his orientation will be unacceptable to his family and friends. He gradually becomes more confident, and, with the support of those who really care about him, his aspirations and his personal relationships seem full of promise. This is a well-written contemporary story with touches of humor and well-drawn, empathetic characters.-Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Alex's passion for riding, grooming and showing horses keeps his compartmentalized life orderly and his homosexuality at bay. When he starts riding dressage, an elegant equestrian sport, with a brazen boarding-school blonde named Chloe, he gets thrown from the saddle. Readers of Juby's Alice McLeod series will find similar pitch-perfect comedic voices as well as sensitive, subtle treatment of teen struggles with identity and friendship. Spoiled, ditzy Chloe provides hilarious first-person narration, unwittingly throwing lopsided punch lines that draw consistent laughs. Her dizziness keeps the novel buoyant and leavens Alex's world of palpable tension. Juby delivers his earnest struggle to maintain a double life through a third-person narrator, cleverly conveying the distance between Alex's inner feelings and his outward expressions. Dressage, along with his odd-couple friendship with Chloe, gives Alex the strength to simply relax and be himself. Teens will happily embrace this refreshingly holistic gay teen character, built on cute quirks, humor and pathos rather than farce and flamboyance. (Fiction. YA)
Pacific & Prairie Horse Journal
“Juby delicately weaves humor with poignant drama.”
ALA Booklist
“Wry humor infuses this story with a gentle warmth.”
Patricia Lasko
“I really love it!! I laughed so hard in places and found others so poignant” - Patricia Lasko, Editor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060765217
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2007
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 344

Meet the Author

SUSAN JUBY is the author of the critically acclaimed Getting the Girl and Another Kind of Cowboy, as well as the bestselling Alice series (Alice, I Think; Miss Smithers; Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last) and her latest novel for adults, The Woefield Poultry Collective. After dropping out of fashion college and attaining a BA from the University of British Columbia, Susan went to work in the book industry. She holds a master’s degree in publishing. She currently lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, James, and their dog, who prefers to remain anonymous. Visit her online at

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Read an Excerpt

Another Kind of Cowboy

Chapter One

September 7

Alex Ford

Mr. Ford loved having a cowboy for a son. Sometimes Alex thought his riding was the only thing his dad had left to live for. Alex realized almost as soon as he got Turnip that he would not be taking dressage lessons. The horse came with a Western saddle and bridle as well as some erratic notions about steering. Apparently the alcoholic cowboy who'd trained him had done a lot of drinking and riding.

After the first few spills, one of which left Alex unable to remember his own name for most of an afternoon, his father hired a local girl to give Alex Western riding lessons. Meredith, a young woman who trained quarter horses and paints, was almost supernaturally even-tempered and unflappable. She wore a uniform of braids and jeans and boots and looked seventeen, even though she was almost thirty.

Meredith taught Alex to ride and helped him retrain Turnip. "Getting his steering working," she called it. Turnip was not a handsome horse, but he was a remarkably willing and honest one. Meredith liked to say he had more try in him than any horse she'd ever known. In that way he was a good match for his owner, who'd changed from an imaginative child into a serious, hardworking, perpetually stressed young man who was only able to relax when he rode.

Other than their shared love of hard work, Alex and his horse were an odd match. Turnip was short, big eared, and roman nosed. He paddled when he trotted and his tail was as sparse as his mane was abundant. Alex, on the other hand, was tallish and well-proportioned. Most people who noticed him also noted that he was graceful,though perhaps not everyone knew to call it that. He was thrilled when people asked if he was from out of town and he treasured the memory of the time a visitor to Meredith's barn asked, "Who's the rich kid?" because of the careful way he carried himself.

The unlikeliness of their pairing must have appealed to Meredith's sense of humor, because soon after she started teaching Alex, she began bringing him and Turnip to horse shows. That was five years ago. At first Alex and his horse received pitying glances, as though there was something a bit pathetic about the slightly shabby old paint groomed within an inch of his life and his poised young rider. When Alex overheard one woman joke that Turnip's blanket probably had cost more than the horse, Alex bit back a tart retort about her atrocious haircut. The smart green blanket had cost more than the poker hand that won his horse.

Meredith had Alex enter performance-based competitions only, like trail and Western riding and horsemanship, because she knew Turnip couldn't try his way out of ugliness and odd conformation. Under her tutelage, the odd couple, as Alex and his horse came to be known, became the pair to beat on Vancouver Island.

After nearly five years of winning, Alex suspected that if he asked Turnip to fly, the horse would probably give it his best shot. Alex loved competing and took great pride in his horse's accomplishments, but he still thought longingly about dressage. He was held back by the worry that asking Turnip to do dressage would be a bit like asking the old horse to fly. He also felt it would have been disloyal to leave Meredith to begin dressage training. Meredith was a first-rate horsewoman and the closest thing Alex had to a real friend.

Then there was the small matter of his father.

Alex's parents' marriage had begun to unravel soon after he got the horse. His mom announced she wanted a separation, and that she wanted his dad to move into a condominium in town. Instead, Mr. Ford purchased a recreational vehicle off his own sales lot and parked it in the driveway. He told anyone who asked that he wanted to stay close so he could keep an eye on the kids and on his wife's "gentlemen visitors." He must not have kept close enough watch, however, because a couple of years after he moved into his RV, his wife informed the family that her affair with a local insurance adjuster was serious and they were moving to Florida together. The adjuster, who had long sideburns and favored skinny ties and pointy shoes, was at least ten years younger than Alex's mother. She said he reminded her of Rod Stewart.

Now, four years after he'd moved out of the house, Mr. Ford's trailer was still parked alongside the house, and he was still living in it, even though his wife was long gone. He seemed to think that if he stayed very still and didn't change anything, she'd come back.

Alex didn't want to do anything to upset his father, who was in a precarious mental state, and switching from Western to dressage would definitely upset him. Mr. Ford never missed a horse show. He loved parading around in his expensive lizard-skin cowboy boots and tight blue jeans. He was always first into the beer garden at the shows and last out. Somehow, Alex couldn't see his dad getting the same kind of thrill out of hanging around dressage competitions.

Oh, but I would, thought Alex as he stood near the dressage rings at the Fall Fling Horse Show. At any mixed-discipline show Alex always found himself standing at the edge of the dressage rings. He loved looking at the horses in their neat braids. He admired the riders, almost all of whom were female, in their tidy breeches and velvet hats. But most of all he was fascinated by the dressage tests. There was something about the precision of it that appealed to him.

Today he stood against the wall of a judge's booth, tucked into the shade of the roof, his face hidden under the brim of his cowboy hat. When he turned to see who was up next . . .

Another Kind of Cowboy. Copyright (c) by Susan Juby . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for

    Cleo O'Shea rides horses. Her wealthy parents work in the movie business and have raised Cleo through a series of housekeepers, drivers, and other assorted caretakers. When Cleo's poor choices lead her into troubled times, they decide to enroll her in a boarding school on Vancouver Island. <BR/><BR/>An early interest in horses prompted Cleo's mother to enroll her in riding classes. In keeping with this interest, Cleo finds herself at Stoneleigh, a school that focuses on equestrian training. As a hobby, riding had always been fun, but now that Cleo's school experience revolves around riding and competition, she is not so sure about it. Finding Alex Ford seems to improve things a bit. <BR/><BR/>Alex has never truly fit in. His early childhood was spent pretending his bicycle was a horse. His odd obsession with competitive dressage didn't win him many friends or even acquaintances. When his mother left, Alex became more and more responsible for his twin sisters. His father's interests became more focused on staying drunk and living in the driveway in an old RV. Grappling with a drunken father, a lack of money, and the possibility of being more interested in boys than girls, has Alex feeling anxious and alone. Meeting Cleo gives Alex a courage he never realized he had. <BR/><BR/>Life in ANOTHER KIND OF COWBOY revolves around dressage riding and competition. Cleo and Alex meet and then find themselves sharing the same trainers, a couple of retired horsemen living on a nearby farm. Filled with Susan Juby's refreshing humor, one-of-a-kind characters, and some serious teen issues, this book is sure to be popular with both male and female readers. As a result of the detailed dressage descriptions and interesting storylines, I found myself imagining what might be a fun film version of the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2008


    okay this is a book about a boy named Alex Ford.He has two sisters who are twins and have blackbelts! His mother leaves and his father becomes a drunk dating guy who lives in an R.V. outside of their house! Grace Alex's aunt moves in to help take care of them. Alex is a cowboy, but his passion is Dressage Riding. A different style that Alex has always loved! Then there is Clio who gets sent off because of an incident with a 22-year-old guy named Chad.Her parents send her to an Equestrian school were she and one other girl take Dressage lessons.All the other girls at the school do jumping.They go to some shows and suck horriably, so Clio And later Alex start taking lessons with Ivan & Fergus, two retired guys! They give them lessons and help them out! then the parts about parties and coming out of the closet!! This is a really good book though!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    if you are looking for a book about a gay guy finding his boyfreind and a druken girl you found it! don't recommond for someone looking for a cowboy western fall in love with the right girl book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Surprisingly good.

    I enjoy all sorts of "horsey" books, but I was especially impressed with this book for young adults. Well written and engaging and makes an interesting twist on the genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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