Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2011
Two teenage girls and a noble, aged horse on a road trip. What could beat that?
Sixteen-year-old Hattie, in an expressive, quirky yet pitch-perfect first-person voice, provides the flowing narrative, as she steals Speed, an ancient horse scheduled to be put down the following autumn morning (merely to prevent the possibility of a difficult winter burial) and heads west with her best friend, Delores. She’s an emotionally fragile 18-year-old, rejected by her boyfriend-focused mother, and needs a rescue almost as badly as the horse. Their goal is to find free range for Speed, offering him the opportunity, for once in his life, to just be a horse—free, not plodding around a carnival ring. Along the way they encounter other horse lovers, most notably Julie, an elderly woman who just wants to share a few heart-wrenching moments with patient Speed; Fry, a Minnesota double amputee with plenty of land and a big heart; and Punch, a handsome young rodeo rider who loves both horses and Hattie. Monniger’s writing is delicious, evocative and, especially during horse-focused scenes, moving.
Horse story, road trip, coming-of-age tale: It’s any and all of these, but mostly a tender and authentic voyage into the mind of a wise, funny and wholly likable protagonist. (Fiction. 11 & up)