Book Cover Graphic from Simon and Schuster Canada

Book Cover Graphic from Simon and Schuster Canada

By: Jeannette Walls

Released in 2009 and was a New York Times ‘Notable Book’ that same year.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook version of this wonderfully funny, emotional and sometimes heart-breaking biography.

This story is a fictionalized biography of the author’s grandmother. What a character! Whether non-fiction or fiction, this is a terrific story. The fact that the character of Lily Casey Smith was a real person and that at least some of the stories about her are based on family lore just makes this book all the more interesting.

On the Simon and Schuster website the book is described in the following way: “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. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.”
Read more at:


Lily Casey Smith was one heck of a woman. At the age of six she was helping her father break horses and helping take care of her younger brother and sister. In fact, Lily saved the lives of both of her siblings in dramatic fashion early on in the story.

At age fifteen, with only a few months of formal education Lily wrote and passed a test that qualified her to become an itinerant teacher. For her first job she travelled alone on her horse, Patches, 500 miles through the desert to reach her new job as a teacher in a one room schoolhouse.

America had been at war when she started her teaching job and after the war ended and service men began returning Lily was “let go.”

Lily’s story is downright fascinating and the author has set the perfect pace for her story. Her descriptions of the people and places make you feel as if you know those people intimately and as if you have been there.


The narrator’s voice as well as the fact that the book was written in the first person both add to the feelings of comfort and familiarity evoked in the reader.

I rate this audiobook as 5 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction, people who enjoy reading about strong female characters and anyone who seeks to be entertained.

To learn more about this author and view her other titles go to:


Image of Lily Casey Smith found at

Author photo by John Taylor

Book Cover photo from Simon and Schuster Canada

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