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Showing 1-10 of 94 reviews(3 star, Verified Purchases). See all 1,737 reviews
on April 22, 2012
Reading the reviews here, so many people seem to forget the book is a work of fiction. The trials and tribulations of Lily Casey are, for the most part, a product of the author's imagination. The story is inspiring, certainly - over and over again Lily "digs deep, rises up, and overcomes" her circumstances. But there is a dark undercurrent to Lily that is never explored in any detail. She has, to put it bluntly, rage issues. She beats a schoolchild mercilessly, and also "whales" her teenage daughter with a belt to the point of nearly blacking out, while the girl whimpers on the floor. Both kids' offenses that lead to the beatings have sexual undertones, which is interesting, but not discussed at all. And the elephant in the room is "The Glass Castle," which details (in ways that strain credulity) Jeanette Walls' dismal upbringing at the hands of Lily's daughter Rose Mary. The cycle of mothers neglecting and taking out their frustrations on their daughters starts with Lily's mother, and is clearly handed down to Lily, then Rose Mary, then Jeannette - who we can only assume finally broke the cycle with her own children - and Jeanette's sisters, one of whom turned to drugs and homelessness herself. It would have added a rich layer of personal interest for the author to explore this subtext, rather than going on and on about Lily's exploits (she flies planes! races horses! plays poker! drives a hearse! and was a bootlegger!). Lily was a force of nature to be sure, but that force also destroyed her daughter Rose Mary, which really isn't something to celebrate.
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on August 13, 2011
I so looked forward to reading this book - The Glass Castle was such a beautiful and profound work, that perhaps my expectations were simply too high.

I found Half Broke Horses to be pedestrian and uninspired, full of stock characters that are disappointingly predictable and one-dimensional. The father with his head in the clouds; the languishing mother who considers herself above their hard-scratch life; the philandering salesman who two-times his wife; the sister who goes to Hollywood, gets pregnant, and hangs herself in the kitchen; and - of course - the scrappy heroine who's simply faster, better, smarter and sassier than just about everyone in her life, you betcha.

Beyond this, the story itself has no core. I kept waiting for the random events to coalesce into the revelation of some deeper truth or insight, as Walls so adeptly developed in her first book. It never happened; instead, we were presented with a pedantic timeline of events and often pointless anecdotes in one woman's life - strung together with no perceivable higher purpose. As I slowly realized that there was no "there" there - and never would be - my interest waned and I moved quickly through the story to its end.

Given the admittedly sparse information on her grandmother's life, Walls could have taken the details at hand and used them to create a series of short stories - stand-alone depictions of a period of time - each of which could have been crafted and honed and shaped to offer thought-provoking insights upon which to reflect. Such a series of short stories could have been within the context of a collection ... each story told from a different character's viewpoint, perhaps, and with a different "voice" - yet with the cumulative effect of leaving the reader with a richer understanding of our country's pioneers, and the land that shaped them.
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on October 26, 2014
Having read The Glass Castle a while ago, I found it difficult to picture this amazing woman as the authors grandmother. But not difficult to picture how the west was settled by the hard working, take no prisoners, kind of people.
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on November 30, 2009
This book is filled with details about life on the ranch; many people will find them interesting. However, it is very disjointed. The writer makes use of small portions of text and much white space between them. I found that although it was easy reading, it lacked wholeness.
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on February 1, 2014
This book is a well written and interesting chronicle of day to day life in the old west of the early 1900's. It describes aspects of many different careers. What ruined it for me was the central character who was supposed to be admirable. Unfortunately I found her insufferable smug. On almost every page there she was saying how
great she was and how bad everyone around her was. Still it was an informative look at the times.
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on May 23, 2010
however,if you read Jeannette Walls' first book, "The Glass Castle", you will be disappointed. If you are trying to decide between the two, go with this one first and then move on to "The Glass Castle". However, if you can only chose one, stick to "The Glass Castle". It is a beautiful story that will have you laugh out loud one minute and on the verge of tears the other.
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on August 28, 2016
It was interesting to learn about the history at that time and I was glad to learn about Jeannette Wall's grandmother. I felt a little bit better about her mother after reading this. But I didn't like first person in this book. It made Lily sound like she was bragging and I really didn't like her very much. She put financial gain above everything else, even her own children. However, my sister loved the book.
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on May 12, 2014
I read "Glass Castle" several years ago & was touched by the experiences of Jeannette Walls. She's an amazing, resilient woman who overcame a pretty awful childhood and went on to have a good life.

This book is the story of her grandmother (her mother's mother) written from stories told to Jeannette by her mother. Her grandmother lived an interesting life - and it's also insight in to how Jeannette's mother came to be the mother she was & married the man she did. It's an interesting story well-told.

I've really enjoyed books about life in Arizona (though this takes place in Texas & New Mexico also) before modern conveniences - "These Is My Words", "Sarah's Quilt", "The Star Garden" - for those who may want to read more about those times as well.
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on March 3, 2010
I was first intrigued by the short chapters. Then I realized that the short chapters were short stories in the main character's life with her banter (and not always great banter) interceded into it. I thought I would not make it through it if the entire book was going to be this way! But then, about half way through, the story turned for me. I started to get invested in Lily and was rooting for her. I admired her gumshen and directness, which was rare in her day. She started to remind me of my great-grandmother, also a school teacher, who had a thing or two to say and didn't really care much who heard it. Overall, this is a good read for those who had a story telling grandma or great-grandma - you will like it. If not, you may find it a bit boring!
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on February 10, 2013
If you read "Half Broke Horses" prior to reading "The Glass Castle", you would probably rate this much higher because it really is an engrossing and captivating read. But having read "The Glass Castle", this story pales in comparison a bit. "The Glass Castle" was one of the most unbelievable and amazing stories about a life that I have ever read. I was so stunned and amazed at her life and childhood - it makes the mind reel... and years later my jaw still drops if I recall some of the events of her life. That said, I suppose you can't go into this book expecting a replication of those feelings. It doesn't have the shock factor and intrigue of her previous book, but this woman's story in "Half Broke" is very unique and interesting in it's own right. This is still a great read and collection of stories and memories about another very interesting person, and it is quite worth your time. But again, just don't expect "Glass Castle".
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