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on Jan. 15, 2011 :
Stevie has just spent the school year in Tulsa with her aunt and uncle, and she's now headed home to Antler for what she's sure will be the best summer of her life. She's made plans to compete in every barrel race she can manage, and she's eager to see her older brother and her horses again. She's ready to put a recent tragedy behind her and focus on the fun and adventure that will comprise her summer. Unfortunately, things don't always work out as we plann. From arriving home a few days late (because her dad can't be bothered to come and get her), to a surprising new friendship and an unexpected injury, Stevie is quickly finding out that this summer isn't all that she expected. Maybe, just maybe, it's more. Along the way, she finds out some surprising things about her family, her horses and, most importantly, about herself.
In my review of another of author David Michael's books, "The Summoning Fire," (read that review here) I commented that I was sure I'd enjoy his work in other genres as well. Luckily, I was right. I delighted in this journey of a girl coming to terms with uncertainty and loss by ignoring all that makes her uncomfortable, and focusing on her dreams for the future. Along the way, she discovers that she must face her past before she can look forward to her future. She can't fully be herself without acknowledging that she is who she is because of where she's been. With her horses to help her cope in unexpected ways, Stevie matures into a young woman who is more whole, and no longer just a sum of her parts.
The writing is engaging, as is the storyline. The prose is very readable and perfectly combines maturity and young adult appeal to make it a good read for all ages. I must admit that I've never been the type of girl who dreamed of a horse of her own. In fact, I am not really a horse fan in general. I've ridden a horse exactly twice, and I distinctly remember a few tears (or maybe more than a few) of fear each time. Even with my clear lack of interest in anything equine, something in this story still reached out to me. I think we can all relate to the difficulties involved in change, loss, and in just plain growing up. I was thoroughly engaged in the story- enough that I even cried a few tears of my own along the way. Life doesn't always work out the way we plan, and this story included just the right amount of emotional conflict and growth to keep me entertained and engaged the whole way through.
The characters rang true and were well-defined, for the most part. Stevie's character is quite complex and the author does a nice job mimicking teenage angst. However, some of Stevie's actions and words seemed to repeat in ways that smacked of redundancy. For example, there was a scene with Travis that I read and immediately thought "didn't I just read this scene?" because of a very similar scene happening shortly before.
Altogether, a great example of a touching and entertaining young adult novel that brings the reader through a gamut of emotions to an ending the satisfies.
4.5 /5 stars @ MotherLode blog
(reviewed long after purchase)
L. A. Wright
on Dec. 30, 2010 :
Article first published as Book Review:The Girl Who Ran With Horses by David Michael on Blogcritics.
Stevie Buckbee dreams about horses. She is just thirteen and has been living with her Aunt and Uncle in the city, going to school. She is ready to go home and spend time on the ranch with her beloved horses. Things have changed so much in her young life. Her brother Edwin was killed the prior year. Just thinking about it brings on tears. Then her mom left, leaving her and her brother Blake with their father on the Horse Ranch. These are really the situations that have brought her to this place and she is ready to be home, on the ranch and with what is left of her family and horses.
As she finally reaches the area of ranches near her own home, she feels an odd feeling, as though she is being watched. Looking out the window, she notices that the horses are all looking at her. At first that seems silly, but as she continues passing the pastures and farms, the horses are all looking her direction, their heads turning as the car passes by, keeping their eyes on her until she can no longer see them.
When they finally reach McAlester, she forgets about it as she sees her brother Blake waiting for her. They have always been close and she runs to hug him. Her warm hug is returned but she is bothered to find that he has brought his girlfriend Shannon. She is not ready to share her family yet, but what she finds when she reaches the Ranch disturbs her even further.
Her father is not as she remembers. He drinks more and sleeps more, he does not get up as much and the Ranch has gone down hill. There is only a semblance of what used to be, there are even less horses then there were when she was home before. The Ranch is a mess, and Blake assures her that they will be cleaning it up before she is able to do any racing. Even with that, Stevie is happy to be around her beloved horses. What she is not ready for is to find that they can communicate with her. And stranger yet, she can communicate back.
David Michael has taken a time in a young girls life, already rife with change internally. He has added external changes of such disruption and turmoil, that it almost makes the family come apart. With first the loss of her brother in death and then her mother leaving, she is sent off to live with relatives away from the comfort of her family and her beloved horses. Her life is turned upside down.
In The Girl Who Ran With Horses, he has given Stevie something new to believe in. A new kind of belonging, one where she is never left out. She gains control in a way that she does not have in her actual life, a life that is changing, becoming both more and less then it was before. He has built his characters from real life, with both the hurts and frustrations that are often in our every day dealings. Stevie is a fun and loving child out of place, and feeling it, acting out in her own abilities. Both her father and her brother, deal with the life and heartaches in their own way. And yet it takes a very traumatic circumstance to help them draw together and become a family again.
It is a heartwarming book, with just a bit of the paranormal thrown in. The communication she has with the horses is fun and frivolous, and at times painful.
This would be a fun and unique story for the young adult reader. It deals with real issues and problems that face many families, and the pace is steady, easy to follow. A great book for old and young alike.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 25, 2010 :
Stevie Buckbee misses her family, or what's left of it. She only receives a few cards a year from her mother, who left the family a few years ago, and then with the death of her brother Edwin, her dad decided it would be best if she spent the school year in Tulsa with her aunt and uncle. Although she spent school breaks at home on the family ranch in Antlers, OK, she is anxious to return for good. When summer break arrives she is anxious to head home for good, all she ever dreams of is being home with her dad and brother Blake ,and to spend time with her beloved horses, especially Jack Rabbit a feisty horse her father purchased for her. While on spring break Jack Rabbit threw her but that doesn't diminish her plans for training and racing him over summer break. When she arrives home her dad seems distant, and her brother Blake is making plans to go away to college in the fall. The ranch looks neglected, and there are fewer horses boarding there. When she learns she has developed a special connection with the horses, being able to communicate with them thru thoughts, and sometimes feeling what they feel, she isn't sure at first its real. With everything going on at the ranch, the one thing she fears is that her dad will send her back to Tulsa in the fall. Can the family pull together, and will things ever be normal again for Stevie?
Stevie is a young girl coming of age, who has dealt with a lot of upheaval in her life. The author does a remarkable job of portraying Stevie's feelings. She seems like a young girl lost in alot of ways without alot of control over what goes on around her. While she is a bit headstrong at times, especially when it comes to listening to people who are trying to teach her how to ride her horse. She is also very practical and worries about those around her.The author tackles some very heavy subjects such as the abandonment by her mother, the death of her brother, her father's alcoholism, and her brother Blake growing into his own person, wanting to spread his wings away from the ranch. The authors writing drew me to Stevie immediately, and made it easy to connect with her. I could also see where her family was coming from, they are all suffering, and each one is handling it the best way they can. Her dad really feared abandonment as well, but the things he did often pushed the people closest to him away.
The paranormal twist the author throws in was neat, it was fun to hear the thoughts of the horses, although sometimes it wasn't what Stevie wanted to hear. It was interesting to see her learn to block some of it out.
A heartwarming story that horse lovers of all ages will enjoy reading. A story that is easy to connect with because the author deals with problems that are easy for alot of people to relate to. The characters are also down to earth and easy to connect with, making you hope that all will work out for them.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 08, 2010 :
Very impressed with this. I think horse lovers, both young adults and older will really like it and relate to the heroine.
To view full review and some AWESOME PICTURES, click the link: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2010/12/girl-who-ran-with-horses-by-david.html
(reviewed within a month of purchase)