Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Club: Half Broke Horses

The NY Times review of Half Broke Horses oddly, spends just as much time talking about Laura Ingalls Wilder as it does the actual book--most of this comes from the fact that the heroine of our book was actually born in a dug-out. Even I found myself fondly thinking of the time that Pa Ingalls was bringing home candy to the girls for Christmas but got stuck in a snow storm and had to eat it all so he could survive....

Back to the book at hand.

Lily Casey Smith is just the kind of woman I would like to be. She is smart, loyal, gets up when she falls, isn't afraid to reinvent herself and doesn't back down when she's in the right. I zipped through the book inspired by her nearing-on-smarty-pants narration and laughing out loud.....

Strong women take setbacks in stride and learn from their mistakes along the way. Life isn't about luck, it is about going out and doing what you set your mind out to accomplish

Most folks in that part of Arizona didn’t pay much attention to Prohibition, considering it a perverse eastern aberration…Wasn’t no one going to come between a cowboy and his whiskey.

When God closes a window, he opens a door. But it’s up to you to find it.

I think I would have liked this book better if I hadn't also read The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls first book). The Glass Castle follows Lily Casey Smith's daughter Rosemary as she raises her children and the results are not pretty. Mostly, Half Broke Horses sent me into a little bit of a parenting tizzy. If we, as parents, are hard working and reinvent ourselves and roll with the punches, how do we help teach those things to our children? How much responsibility do parents have over the decisions their children make?

The trick is that Lily Casey Smith's life wasn't less impressive because of what her daughter was. She was no less smart and loyal. She didn't suddenly stop getting up when she was kicked down and she didn't stop standing up for herself. The thing that's been rolling around in my head since I read the book is the reminder that, we, as parents, don't get to define ourselves by what our children do. We can try to instill in our children the good qualities we possess but even if we aren't able to pass them on we don't get a pass.
Our lives need to stand on their own merit.

Ok. Next month's book is Tinkers. Put your name on the library list right now because it was Lisa's suggestion and I'm pretty sure we're going to love it.

1 comment:

  1. I am soooo slow in this season of my life. There's just a wee bit too much to juggle. So, I just finished this book last week. However, I really enjoyed it. That Lily reinvented herself so many times, and yet I loved that she was a real person who had such enviable flare and such a nasty case of bullheadedness (new word?) at the same time. I've not read The Glass Castle, but since I loved the character of Rosemary (a headstrong little artist who goes night swimming in the waters of Havasupai and never quite finds her place in the 'big city'), I'm not sure I'm eager to pick it up. I also loved Jim. He was such a Strong steady man and played foil to all the reckless, good-for-nothings men or nameless/faceless cowhands that inhabited this book that was very much about women and the places in society they inhabit or choose to inhabit. The ending felt a bit like a wash, but how do you neatly tie up the story of a woman and her family into a tidy little bow--the generations tell the story, and maybe that was part of the author's message.