This lovely little book evokes the spirit of a ranching family, as 12-year-old Ignatius (known as "Brother") dives into the enormous task of keeping the ranch running with just his grandfather, while his older brothers are gone and his father's reserve unit is called up to active duty in Iraq. With details about horses, lambs, calving and the stark beauty of eastern Oregon as a backdrop, this is very moving story about a boy finding his true path in life. I was quite touched, and you will be, too.
THE OUTSIDE OF A HORSE, by Ginny Rorby
Dial Books for Young Readers/ 2010
13-year-old Hannah Gale lives with her step-mom and her baby brother. Still reeling from her own mother's death, she anxiously awaits her dad's return from Iraq, while she lives, day by day, for the horses she befriends at a nearby stable. When her dad returns a different man than the one that left, and her family situation becomes unbearable, Hannah turns to horses for solace and comfort. This a book about healing, and Hannah learns that the power of horses to heal might also be of use to her dad, still suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Wonderful book for horse lovers and others. I loved it.
BULL RIDER, by Suzanne Morgan Williams
Margaret K. McElderry Books/ 2009
I like to read all kinds of books. But realistic fiction, for me, is the thing that packs an emotional wallop. These three books may actually have as much to say about the effects of war on humans than an entire bestselling series. And when you add the outdoors, animals, horses - well, that just definitely makes them my kind of story. I hope you like them, too.