You may be familiar with the author, Jeannette Walls, from her break-through memoir, A Glass Castle, which was actually made into a movie this year. In Half Broke Horses, Jeannette once again delves into her family’s (not too pleasant) history, and follows the remarkable life of her maternal grandmother, Lily Smith. Remarkable is an easy, cheap word to throw out, but in all seriousness Lily was freakishly remarkable. I am always intrigued by people who start out with absolutely nothing but somehow beat the odds and “make it big”. Lily Smith started with very little and in all honesty, has very little the entire novel, but the book is never about her “making it big”. Instead, it is about her doing something most of us take for granted…surviving. The book starts off with a scene that sets the tone for what a survivor this woman truly is. In the opening scene, Lily is just 10 years old and I remember thinking, this single event would have probably wiped out most of the people I know and yet this 10-year-old had the quick wits and the unyielding grit to not only survive, but to save her two younger siblings in the process.
You will really enjoy this book if you like true life memoirs about overcoming odds and not letting life kick when you are down. I was very transfixed with Lily’s life, and all the tragedies and devastating setbacks that she encountered, but it was also interesting to learn more about The Great Depression and parts of the country that I haven’t previously put much research or thought into. I found myself pretty inspired and, at the same time, embarrassed for complaining about trivial things in my own life. I definitely thought twice about all the simple things I take for granted.
Rating: 4.25 stars. Scale: 0 being any law school book I ever had and 5 stars being Gone With The Wind.