Most helpful positive review
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully Written, Compelling Story
on November 11, 2011
Renee is 16 years old when she becomes pregnant, drops out of school, and marries Kenny, her oafish boyfriend who is two years her senior. Predictably, this is not a "happily-ever-after" union. Kenny degenerates from a disagreeable lout into an abusive brute. Renee finally gets up the gumption to take their son and leave Kenny. But there the predictability ends. Unanticipated and surprising events transpire after Renee walks out on Kenny. Yet, what unfolds next still feels genuine and believable, making this story very compelling.
The characters are not one-dimensional stereotypes, but are painted as complex human beings. Renee, who is initially rather aimless, does develop ambitions to have a better life for herself and her son, and gets a job and goes to college. But she never undergoes a Superwoman metamorphosis. She struggles, makes mistakes, has lapses in judgment - she has her flaws (as well as bad luck), but you still totally root for her. Kenny cannot be written off as completely vile and good for nothing, as his love for his son is so strong. There are no clear victors in their battles, and plenty of disappointment and heartache to go around.
Given the circumstances, the book has a satisfying ending. There is also an epilogue, which briefly summarizes what happened to all of the characters in years hence. I appreciated that post script, but I loved this author's writing style so much that I would have been very happy had the book continued into the future and drawn out all of these events to their conclusion. I simply didn't want the book to end.
While "When Horses Had Wings" is certainly a poignant tale, it is not a depressing, oppressive book. This is largely due in part, I think, to the wonderful prose found in the story. Ms. Estill is a true wordsmith and not only did I enjoy the actual story itself, it was a separate pleasure just to read the words. The story is narrated by Renee, and her self-deprecating nature ensured that even a good bit of humor found its way into the book. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Estill's work.