When someone tells me that they like books to really tug at one’s emotions, I’ve got a sure bet for them with Ginny Rorby’s story about a girl who turned to horses to forge a connection with her father, away fighting in Iraq. This teenager faces down a slew of family- and horse-related trauma, and I don’t think it was just my exhausting week that was responsible for the cathartic waterworks of my morning. When Hannah’s father returns with an amputated leg and PTSD, parallels between horse relationships and human ones create a fairly non-stop emotional intensity, off-set by moments of hope and growth and the occasional filly frolicking in the northern California surf.
For high-strung young people with lots of passion about the issues raised during the story, Rorby includes several links to further information and ways to get involved in everything from equine therapy programs to Parelli horse gentling methods, and even encourages people who can’t have animals of their own to spend a little time at their area shelter walking dogs and visiting cats. The urge for connection and kindness is given lots of encouragement here–making the novel a noble gift.