Jeanette Walls has written a heartwarming novel based on her Grandmother, Lily Casey Smith's life that is every bit as riveting as her own memoir The Glass Castle. Lily is a strong woman of indomitable spirit whose survival skills will entertain and captivate the reader and in her unique story we see the toughness that Jeannette inherited from her that helped her survive an insane childhood. Straightforward, well written, Half Broke Horses is a delight! — Liz Barnum
I would love to be able to travel back in time to have a conversation with Lily. She was one feisty, smart, and tough woman who knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. While it is technically a work of fiction, Lily was very much so a real woman who made an impact on this world (especially on her granddaughter). A fun read that I enjoyed immensely. — Misha D'Andrea
October 2009 Indie Next List
“Jeannette Walls has written another blockbuster. I could not put down this story of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, and her determination to survive and to help others around her to survive, too. This story will grab you immediately and continue in a compelling and forceful way all the way to the end.”
— Roberta Rubin, The Book Stall At Chestnut, Winnetka, IL
Winter 2011 Reading Group List
“This is a marvelous tribute to Jeannette Walls' unforgettable grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Smith was born in West Texas in 1901, and lived a tough, rough life with her own brand of grace. She didn't like nonsense, prejudice, or whining, but she had a great sense of humor along with her practical, hardworking nature. This is a stunning account of the times and most especially the indomitable Lily.
An outstanding choice for all reading groups.”
— Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM
Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now she brings us the story of her grandmother -- told in a voice so authentic and compelling that the book is destined to become an instant classic.
"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town -- riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane, and, with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.
Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds -- against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. It will transfix readers everywhere.
About the Author
Jeannette Walls graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than six years. She is also the author of the instant New York Times bestsellers The Silver Star and Half Broke Horses, which was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Walls lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.
"Lily Casey Smith is one astonishing woman...a half-broke horse herself who's clearly passed on her best traits to her granddaughter. Told in a natural, offhand voice that is utterly enthralling, this is essential reading for anyone who loves good fiction." -- Library Journal
"Walls [is] ... a pretty doggone good storyteller." -- Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Half Broke Horses [is] the tale of yet another free-spirited wisecracking relative, her maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Think a rifle-toting, horse-breaking Annie Oakley in a biplane." -- Craig Wilson, USA Today