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 24 days after purchase)