Finding Somewhere

Finding Somewhere

4.7 4
by Joseph Monninger
     
 

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Two girls: Best friends Hattie and Delores feel that life in their small New Hampshire town is a dead end.

One horse: Old and about to be put down, Speed gets a reprieve when Hattie and Delores decide to save him.

A road trip: Determined to set Speed free, Hattie and Delores drive him west in search of rangeland. But the road

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Overview

Two girls: Best friends Hattie and Delores feel that life in their small New Hampshire town is a dead end.

One horse: Old and about to be put down, Speed gets a reprieve when Hattie and Delores decide to save him.

A road trip: Determined to set Speed free, Hattie and Delores drive him west in search of rangeland. But the road takes some unexpected turns as the girls get their own taste of freedom—and as they confront the reasons they left home.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jennifer M. Miskec
Sixteen-year-old Hattie and eighteen-year-old Delores have a lot in common. Long-time best friends, they are neighbors in a trailer park, earned their GEDs, and feel tired and stuck in their small New Hampshire town. Both girls also love horses. When a horse from Hattie's employer's stable is about to be put down—Speed, a big, old, retired horse who spent his working life tied to a pole giving rides to children—the two girls set out to get Speed to a place where he can run free, to be a real horse as long as his body is able. Stealing away in the middle of the night, a "borrowed" horse trailer hauling Speed behind them, the two girls set out on a cross-country road trip to find free rangeland for Speed. They have little adventures on the way, but the girls never lose sight of their goal and road trip all the way to Minnesota before they find the perfect someplace for Speed to live free. The author's sweetness and care with the characters and story transcend the typical horse story, lacking any contrived romanticism. Emotionally honest, well paced, and sincerely touching, Monninger's story demonstrates a beautiful touch with the female voice and a real respect for intimate relationships formed platonically, romantically, intergenerationally, and even between species. Hattie and Delores may not have it all figured out, but there is never any doubt that they support each other immensely and are both going to be okay. Readers will find real pleasure in this quiet story. Reviewer: Jennifer M. Miskec
Children's Literature - Miranda McClain
When Hattie and Delores cook up a hair brained scheme to steal a horse scheduled to be euthanized and take him out West where he can be "a real horse" they have no idea how far they'll get or if he'll even survive the trip, but they are determined to try despite the fact that their parents are freaking out and they could get arrested.Hattie is driven by her total devotion to Speed, even though he's not really her horse and Delores is not sure what is driving her but she needs to get out on her own and maybe even find her dad. The girls face many hardships not the least of which are Delores' bipolar mood swings and how to care for a failing horse. They each find some unexpected things at the journey's end. Hattie meets a cute cowboy that she ends up having a lot in common with and Delores finds her father and actually decides to try living with him for a while. This coming of age novel tells a sweet tale about friendship with a touch of adventure and a refreshing lack of sex and vulgarity. Reviewer: Miranda McClain
Kirkus Reviews
Two teenage girls and a noble, aged horse on a road trip. What could beat that? Sixteen-year-old Hattie, in an expressive, quirky yet pitch-perfect first-person voice, provides the flowing narrative, as she steals Speed, an ancient horse scheduled to be put down the following autumn morning (merely to prevent the possibility of a difficult winter burial) and heads west with her best friend, Delores. She's an emotionally fragile 18-year-old, rejected by her boyfriend-focused mother, and needs a rescue almost as badly as the horse. Their goal is to find free range for Speed, offering him the opportunity, for once in his life, to just be a horse--free, not plodding around a carnival ring. Along the way they encounter other horse lovers, most notably Julie, an elderly woman who just wants to share a few heart-wrenching moments with patient Speed; Fry, a Minnesota double amputee with plenty of land and a big heart; and Punch, a handsome young rodeo rider who loves both horses and Hattie. Monniger's writing is delicious, evocative and, especially during horse-focused scenes, moving. Horse story, road trip, coming-of-age tale: It's any and all of these, but mostly a tender and authentic voyage into the mind of a wise, funny and wholly likable protagonist. (Fiction. 11 & up)
From the Publisher

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2011
Two teenage girls and a noble, aged horse on a road trip. What could beat that?
Sixteen-year-old Hattie, in an expressive, quirky yet pitch-perfect first-person voice, provides the flowing narrative, as she steals Speed, an ancient horse scheduled to be put down the following autumn morning (merely to prevent the possibility of a difficult winter burial) and heads west with her best friend, Delores. She’s an emotionally fragile 18-year-old, rejected by her boyfriend-focused mother, and needs a rescue almost as badly as the horse. Their goal is to find free range for Speed, offering him the opportunity, for once in his life, to just be a horse—free, not plodding around a carnival ring. Along the way they encounter other horse lovers, most notably Julie, an elderly woman who just wants to share a few heart-wrenching moments with patient Speed; Fry, a Minnesota double amputee with plenty of land and a big heart; and Punch, a handsome young rodeo rider who loves both horses and Hattie. Monniger’s writing is delicious, evocative and, especially during horse-focused scenes, moving.
Horse story, road trip, coming-of-age tale: It's any and all of these, but mostly a tender and authentic voyage into the mind of a wise, funny and wholly likable protagonist. (Fiction. 11 & up)

School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Hattie, 18, and Delores, 16, love a retired horse that is scheduled to be euthanized. Neither teen is willing to accept this fate for Speed, so they borrow a horse trailer, load him up in the middle of the night, and head west to find pastureland where they can leave him to live his final days as a horse, not a pony ride. Of course, their parents are worried and constantly call to reprimand them, and they risk being found by the police and arrested for theft. Fortunately, they don't encounter too much trouble along the way, and they meet more fellow horse lovers than people trying to sabotage them. They camp and sleep in the cab of the truck, and even have enough money occasionally to sleep in hotels. This is a story for all who have deeply loved an animal and felt like they needed to help it. While the initial defiance by the teens is not something to encourage, the end result is positive.—Jessica Lorentz Smith, Bend Senior High School, OR

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385739429
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
11/08/2011
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
HL780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Finding Somewhere


By Joseph Monninger

Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2011 Joseph Monninger
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780385907897

Chapter 1

I slipped through the gate without any problem and heard the horses shift and move the way they do when something unfamiliar comes into their space. I knew the stable, of course, and I felt bad for sneaking in, but the Fergusons hadn't left me much choice in the matter. Luckily, a full moon gave me enough light. I walked quickly across the first paddock, where we usually saddled them, and Bucker looked over his stall and whinnied. I said, "Shhhhh," but he whinnied again, greedy bugger that he is, and I slipped close and gave him an apple. He chomped it the way he always does, the big blockheaded fool, but I kissed him on his star forehead and told him to be quiet.

"I'm here for Speed," I said. "Not you."

He slobbered over the apple. It was late September in New Hampshire, the leaves falling into tall grass. You could bite the air. You couldn't blame a horse for feeling it. The air made us all crazy.



I didn't turn on any lights. I walked down the boardwalk outside the stable doors and I gave a quick pat to the horses I passed. Pumpkin, Sally, Clumpy, Bees, Wally, and Sammy. Speed dozed in the second-to-last stall, next to Sammy, and he didn't even wake when I stood right in front of him.

"What a lazy bucket you are," I said when I reached for him.

I put my arms around him and he drooped his head over my shoulder and nuzzled his chin against my back. Other horses sometimes let you hug them, but Speed was the only horse I'd ever known who hugged back. He clamped me to him, his chin pulling me closer, and I held him for a little while and whispered what we were going to do. I told him I loved him, too, and he kept pressure on my back as though he were listening. As though he understood. Then I blew into his ear a little, to get it flicking, and he made a soft, gentle sound deep in his belly.

"Who's my boy?" I whispered to him. "Who's my favorite horse in the whole world? Who's my good, good boy?"

I kissed him on his cheek and on his forehead. Then I grabbed his halter and clipped a lead to it, and swung the stall door open. He plodded out, a big horse still, nearly sixteen hands at the withers, but old, and he walked quietly. He had manners. Everyone who had ever ridden him--and a million people had ridden him--knew that. He didn't kick or bite or fight the bit. His gentleness surprised you a little, because of his size, and if you didn't know better you expected him to go back on it, but he never did. True blue, really. I got him out and rubbed his ears and forehead a little, then put my ear against his cheek.

"You want to go for a ride?" I asked Speed. "You want to get out of here?"

He didn't, of course. No horse wants to leave a warm stall on a fall night to go walking in the dark.

He didn't know it was his last night alive. A horse doesn't know that kind of thing, even though it knows a whole lot more.



I tucked $240 on the hook of the saddle peg in Speed's stable. That was what I figured the saddle was worth. I had written a note, too, but now I debated about leaving it. I had spent a long time composing it, trying to strike the right tone. The Fergusons are good people, and good horse people, too, so I didn't want to hurt their feelings. I had worked for them two years, almost steadily, doing everything around the stables a person could do. I'd grown up in their barn, really, and I knew they weren't trying to be cold or uncaring about Speed. They figured he was broke for good and they had Carter, their grounds man, dig a pit grave with his backhoe out in the bones pasture. They had considered letting Speed live through the winter, but if a horse dies in the New Hampshire winter, you can't dig a grave for him--sometimes not even with a backhoe. It's a mess. They had come to a decision, and I didn't exactly blame them for it, but I believe a horse, or any animal, should have a chance to live as long as it has dignity. If it can't eat, or has horrible tumors--and I've worked with horses with both problems--then a merciful end is justified. But Speed's problem wasn't anything like that. He had gone dead in his heart, I felt, and didn't have much joy left, because for most of his life he had been treated like a machine. He worked in fairs, on pony ride circuits, at a horseback riding academy when he was younger. A horse-slave, Mr. Ferguson said about horses like Speed. The Fergusons had taken his body in, but not his heart.

I left the note on the hook with the money. I didn't want anyone to be confused about my motives. I didn't want the Fergusons to think I had betrayed them. It wasn't like I had a long, carefully planned plot in my head. I didn't want them to have that idea. I had decided to take Speed because I had to.

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Ferguson,

I am taking Speed on a little vacation. Don't worry, I've got it figured out. I'll take good care of him. I left $240 for the saddle, which I hope is fair, and if it isn't, I'll make it up to you in work. I hope you understand. Sorry to do this, but I couldn't stand by and let Speed go down tomorrow. Sorry. No offense. I'll be back in a month or two, and if you still want me to work for you, I'd like that. If not, I understand.

Hattie Wyatt


From the Hardcover edition.

Continues...

Excerpted from Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger Copyright © 2011 by Joseph Monninger. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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