Half Broke Horses was originally conceived by author Jeannette Walls as a prequel to her best-selling memoir The Glass Castle. It tells the story of her maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. When Walls found that she was unable to gather enough credible, verifiable information to complete this as a work of non-fiction, she turned it into a novel.
This novel is told in Smith’s own voice. She was raised and lived most of her life on ranches in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. As a young woman, she lived in Chicago for a few years, but was always more comfortable in the West. She was strong-willed, independent, principled and smart. She learned to drive and to fly an airplane. She taught school and broke horses. She sold liquor during prohibition and, with her husband, ran both a gas station and a ranch. Wow!
My only quibble with this book is I wish I knew which parts were fiction and which were true. Smith is the kind of woman I wish I could have known. It is a very quick read, and I totally recommend it.
Published in hardcover-Scribner-2009