Falling for Eli: How I Lost Heart, Then Gained Hope Through the Love of a Singular Horse

Falling for Eli: How I Lost Heart, Then Gained Hope Through the Love of a Singular Horse

4.9 12
by Nancy Shulins

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Nancy Shulins had a great career, a loving husband, and was looking forward to having a family. Cheering as her friends got pregnant and dutifully bringing gaily wrapped gifts to every baby shower, she suffered bout after bout of unsuccessful infertility treatment. Devastated, she slowly heals through the most unexpected route: the love of a good (if cranky) horse


Nancy Shulins had a great career, a loving husband, and was looking forward to having a family. Cheering as her friends got pregnant and dutifully bringing gaily wrapped gifts to every baby shower, she suffered bout after bout of unsuccessful infertility treatment. Devastated, she slowly heals through the most unexpected route: the love of a good (if cranky) horse named Eli.

Everyone knows a woman who loves horses. Maybe she rides whenever she can find the time, maybe she rode as a young girl, or maybe she just devoured the Black Stallion books. Twenty years ago, Nancy Shulins let go of one dream--having a child--and worked toward another one: learning to ride and, eventually, having her own horse. In the process, she learned what it means to love another being so much you can’t imagine life without them. Falling for Eli is about learning to break a sweat rather than break down, to try your best even if you’ll never be the best; it’s about learning to stand on your own six feet.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this bittersweet memoir, former Associated Press correspondent Shulins (Every Day I Love You More (Just Not Today)), following multiple failed fertility treatments, relinquishes her dream of having a biological child. After her husband’s coworker allows her to meet his horses, Shulins rekindles her childhood love of riding. Though her first horse, Frank, must be put down, Shulins soon finds the titular Eli, a thoroughbred who becomes her riding partner. The mothers on her street, whom she avoided, throw her a “bridle” shower and Shulins realizes that her love for Eli is similar to the love between a mother and child. Eli’s accidents and illnesses challenge Shulins, and force her to evaluate why Eli means so much to her and reflect on how she has changed since owning him. Shulins proves to be a vulnerable, winning narrator in this story of redemption. Agent: Susanna Einstein, Einstein-Thompson Agency. (May)
From the Publisher
Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica and Grayson
“This is a beautifully written and moving story about the way love creates restorative healing between a fragile human and fragile horse.”

Scott Kraft, Senior Editor, Los Angeles Times
Falling for Eli is a deeply touching memoir, a refreshing and lyrical homage to love and new definitions of motherhood. Shulins is a smart, funny guide on this voyage of discovery and rediscovery, and her 1,200-pound ‘baby’ Eli will steal your heart.”

Dolores Barclay, author, and Arts Editor, The Associated Press
“Love comes in all sizes and shapes, and Nancy Shulins opens our hearts to endless possibilities with her endearing, beautifully woven story of life with Eli. This book is sure to become a classic, and we'll always want to know what Eli will do next."

Publishers Weekly, 3/19/12
“Shulins proves to be a vulnerable, winning narrator in this story of redemption.”

Animal People, April issue
“An uplifting memoir.”

Herd in the Bookstore (blog), 2/27
“A well-written tale, readers will empathize with.”
Waterbury Republican, 4/22/12
“Engaging…Falling for Eli is the best sort of animal book: It’s about animals, but it’s also about the human animal.”

Shelf Awareness, 5/4/12
“Shulins's prose is a pleasure to read. She vividly depicts the dedication and passion required to love a horse long-term, as well as the limitless rewards in doing so…As Shulins shares her challenges and triumphs with Eli—her lovable but injury-prone gelding—and nurses him back from a series of ailments, including lameness, hives, Equine Protozoa Myeloencephalitis and a fractured shoulder, her heart is healed as well…An inspiring memoir about how ‘motherhood’ can take many forms.”
Library Journal, 5/3/12
“This book will appeal to horse and animal lovers as well as women who have struggled with getting pregnant.”
Booklist Online, 4/13/12
“In this heartwarming and soul-searching memoir, Shulins lets the reader in on her love affair with [a] temperamental chestnut.”
EntertainmenRealm.com, 5/11/12
“An easy-to-read memoir for any animal lover.”
InfoDad.com, 5/24/12
“The totality of the book gives exactly [the] impression: of a profound, tremendously meaningful connection between human and horse, in which there is genuine two-way communication.”

January, 6/4/12“Nancy Shulins’ fantastic personal journey is made all the more powerful by her fierce talent. The twice Pulitzer Prize-contending journalist knows how to tell a story; knows how to bring us along…Like the very best memoirs, Falling for Eli is a wonderful story, but it is also so much more. We are made, in a way, to think about motherhood and how the definitions around it have changed and continue to change…One of my top picks of the year.”
Sunday Greenwich Time, 6/10/12
“It’s funny, sweet, and honest.”

Internet Review of Books, 7/20/12

“This book is not just for horse lovers or those who can commiserate with Shulins' infertility issues, but for anyone who enjoys entertaining and exceptional writing of one woman's journey to motherhood.”

DiscoverHorses.com“A must read for any woman who has returned to horses later in life—or is thinking about it…It is beautifully written, the kind of writing that makes your mind feel as if it’s having a spa treatment with just the right balance of stimulation and relaxation.…100 percent authentic…Read it. You won’t regret it—and probably won’t forget it. I have no doubt that I’ll read it again someday—if I can get it back from my friends!"

Tucson Citizen, 8/08/12
“This remarkable story of the special bond that often develops between humans and animals is inspiring and beautifully written.”

Midwest Book Review
, August 2012

“Any collection strong in general-interest pet and autobiography accounts will relish this moving, inspiring story.”

Oceana’s Herald-Journal, 9/6/12“As much a love story as a journey of healing…If you call yourself a horse person, or are looking for a story that has heart, this book is for you.”

Horse & Rider, 9/26/12“If you enjoy reading about the horse-human connection, this is a good read for you.”

Named one of EntertainmentRealm.com’s “12 Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2012”

Product Details

Da Capo Press
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
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File size:
441 KB

Meet the Author

Nancy Shulins was the first woman special correspondent in The Associated Press (AP). Her AP features earned two Pulitzer Prize nominations and a Clarion Award. She is the author of two books and lives in Norwalk, Connecticut, with her husband. 

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Falling for Eli: How I Lost Heart, Then Gained Hope Through the Love of a Singular Horse 4.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 12 reviews.
KKScaramuzzo More than 1 year ago
I was provided this book for an honest review. I was thrilled to death to get it. I just love horse books and stories, especially true ones. Being a horse owner myself, I can relate to many of the issues and triumphs of owning and keeping horses. In this book, Nancy shows her issues of not fitting into societal norms for women her age. It shows her struggles and trials to find her place in life. She already had a great husband and a fantastic job, but according to societal conventions, she was missing something to make her life complete. She bought into this for awhile, and struggled to find her place in life that society thought she should have. As she struggles to feel like she belongs, you get to know her and feel her pain. She is brutally honest about all the feelings she has pertaining to this situation. Bless her husband’s heart; because just when you think she is going to throw in the towel and end up somewhere major depressed or has some kind of break down, he suggests she look into horses. I bet he didn’t have any idea what kind of impact this was gong to have on her when he did it. He was just looking to give her some kind of relief from her suffering. What a great guy! Now enters Eli. Little did Nancy know that this bundle of trouble would be the one thing to make her feel whole? Eli came with his own baggage and issues. These were the very things that helped Nancy and Eli bond. Working through all of them really helped them get to know each other on a very personal level. Horses are a huge responsibility and very difficult to take care of on a normal day. Eli came with previous injuries and tendencies towards future injuries. It is hard to imagine, but as big and magnificent as horses are they are prone to many health problems and injuries. Nancy had it right with her little quote “But for a nail…” Even something that small can cause life threatening injuries. As Nancy and Eli traveled their road to harmony together, Nancy learned many of the serious issues involved in owning a horse. She bravely took them all on and as she gained more confidence took more control of Eli’s actual care. I love the way Nancy was so honest about her feelings throughout the book. Many people who own horses will not own up to the fears that she did. She also took it on the chin when she was dumped by her own horse and didn’t have any problems expressing her anxious thoughts the next time she went to ride. Nancy has spun a wonderful tale of self doubt, redemption and unconditional love leading to recovery and self esteem. Of course Eli was a major part of this story without his help, Nancy could not have learned all that she did about owning her own horse. Eli and Nancy were meant to be together and their story was meant to be shared. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never read it but it sounds AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having horses and no children of my own I could completely comprehend the profound frustration and heartbreak the author hadgone through. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Thank you velvetstar. I wanted to talk to you for a moment" she added
MaggieDana More than 1 year ago
This is one of those rare books you don't want to end. Half-way through, I began reading it really s-l-o-w-l-y so it would last longer. Beautifully written and beautifully told, FALLING FOR ELI grabbed me from the very first page and didn't let go until the last. In fact, it still hasn't let go and I finished reading it three days ago. It's the sort of book that stays with you long after the last page is turned. Nancy Shulins is a talented journalist who really knows how to paint big pictures with just the right words. She made me cry, she made me laugh; at once point, she reduced me to helpless giggles. And, having just met her, she's as charming and funny in person as she is on the page of her fabulous new book. I can't wait for her to write another one.
KokoLH More than 1 year ago
This is without a doubt one of the best books I have read in a very long time. An easy read for anyone! Im a horse lover and struggle some with the fundamentals with a 2 year old TWH my sister and I own together as I have been bucked from another horse in the past that has haunted me. This author explained so many things she went through that I go through at times. Hats off to you Nancy and especially to Eli!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with the two people below me! I just bought a new OTTB and this i could relate to a lot! Great read and i think it should totally win some sort of an award!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Hey Servaljump, there's a prophecy in the 1st result that I think you should see. It's by a cat named Stardust or something, I forgot." ~Whitefoot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ashy tom kit walks in, looking around excitedly. "Wow!" He breathes.