36. Half Broke Horses

A True-Life Novel
by Jeannette Walls

By now everyone should have read The Glass Castle, one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.  It was hugely popular a couple of years ago and still sells quite well.  It told the story of Jeannette Walls’ childhood being raised by pretty unorthodox parents. After its success, she set out to tell her mother Rose Mary’s story.  But Rose Mary convinced her that the story of her mother, Walls’ grandmother, was way more interesting and book worthy.

And right she was.  Lily Casey was born on a horse ranch in West Texas and by the age of six was helping her father to tame wild horses.  You know that the story that you are about to embark on is going to be incredible the minute that, at age 15, she leaves home to teach in a frontier town – and gets there (500 miles away) alone and on a pony.  Her life takes her from town to town teaching, a short stint as a cleaning woman in Chicago, and running a ranch with her husband in Arizona.  Along the way, she has children, learns to drive (this was back when cars were scarce) and to fly a plane.

Walls’ has written this as a novel, but all of the situations are true and verifiable.  I know that women today feel overwhelmed with all that they have to do and the word multi-tasking is a permanent part of our vocabulary, but reading about Lily and everything she accomplished, largely without running water, electricity or much help at all, is truly inspiring. I would recommend this to adults as well as preteens and teenagers.

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