A Practical Peacemaker Ponders . . .

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A Memorable Western Woman

Half-Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls

Each December the New York Times announces their "Ten Best Books" selected from all books published during the year. I like to read at least one from the list. The one I chose from their 2009 list is Half-Broke Horses, and I loved it.

Walls, who gained widespread recognition with her earlier book The Glass Castle, here tells the story of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, born in 1901, a multitalented and formidable woman. Rural schoolteacher, retail manager, horsewoman, poker player and bootlegger, this resourceful and determined Arizona ranch wife got up, dusted herself off, and kept going every time life knocked her down. Walls’ fictionalized retelling of Lily’s life never bogs down in sentimentality or too much detail; the reader keeps wanting to ask, "and then what happened?"

If you love the land and lore of the American West, and the strong women who settled it, pick up Half-Broke Horses.