Thursday, December 23, 2010

What's New On the Bookshelf?

It’s rare that an airport purchase surpasses expectations of minor distraction, but Half Broke Horses did just that. The red and black jacket stood out on the display. The photo of three kids from another era intrigued me. The unusual title was vaguely familiar. Then I read the first page and was sold. Half Broke Horses did not disappoint. This memoir is dubbed a “True-Life Novel” because author Jeannette Walls, who tells her grandmother’s story, based on fact, has filled in the details with her imagination. I loved the voice of Lilly Casey Smith who, in the first chapter, manages to save two siblings from a flash flood. She describes the hardscrabble life in Texas and Arizona, pre-World War I, in a very matter-of-fact kind of way. There were not many professional choices for strong women at the time. At 15, Lilly becomes a teacher, rather than a nurse or a secretary, then saddles up and rides 28 days to her first one-room-school assignment. The other star of this book is the Wild West, with its bright blue skies, dust, and sagebrush. I had finished reading by the time I reached home. Apparently, Jeannette Walls has also written a great memoir, translated into 23 languages. I ordered The Glass Castle through the Wellfleet Library yesterday evening. Have you read it?