Racing to Heaven Kindle Edition
|Length: 113 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top Customer Reviews
An unstable teen is sent to her aunt's ranch where she meets a chestnut stallion who communicates with her and teaches her how to ride - or is this a dream? Anyway, with Big Red as her constant companion, the girl "improves" her attitude and eventually she finds her way to the local track where she works with a young trainer and rides thoroughbreds in races. He puts her a "crazy" horses, which becomes her downfall.
Brenda (the reader doesn't learn her name until page 26) goes through a major physical and emotional transformation all because of Big Red.
This novel is part reality, part fantasy but the main character is likable and the writing style is as if you are reading her diary.
I had the privilege of interviewing Harriet Tramer on my radio show, Broadcast Muse, and in hearing her speak of what to expect within the pages of “Racing to Heaven” it intrigued me greatly to pick up a copy. I was blessed enough that Harriet gave me a free copy for an honest review.
You will enjoy the woven words of Harriet Tramer’s “Racing to Heaven” book and be enraptured within the chapters as she transports you in and out of reality. Well done!
Young adult horse stories are usually pretty straightforward and even hold quite predictable plots: girl loves horse (and/or boy), girl longs to ride/own horse, girl overcomes adversity, and in the end girl gets horse (and/or boy). Not so Racing to Heaven, which is a horse of another color and provides a heart-pounding race into and outside of reality to keep young adult and adult readers guessing.
Yes, it's a racetrack saga and yes, it revolves around a young female jockey. But take those elements and run with them; because that's what Harriet Tramer does as she presents the story of an unstable teen who demonstrates an innate talent for psychic communication with horses.
The story opens with a bang (but is it set in heaven, hell, or somewhere in between?): "The place where I am now goes by so many different names – nirvana, heaven, paradise - that I long ago gave up on trying to decide what name fits it best. And I also gave up trying to figure out something else: how long it has been since I fell off a horse just seconds after I won the biggest race of my life and ended up here. It might be five years, my best estimate. But then again it might be a much longer or a much shorter period of time. There is no way to know for certain, because in this realm nobody keeps track of those things the way they do on Earth. There are no clocks, calendars, computers or cell phones I can use to check the time and date."
So it's a new age novel about the supernatural, right? Not really…because the protagonist and her equine concerns are firmly rooted in the vivid reality of horse racing circles. Then, it's a horse story, right? In a manner of speaking - because the progression is anything but your usual horse saga.
Think 'magic'. Think 'spiritual connections'. Take a classic good-versus-evil story and then turn it on end with a splash of intrigue and action. Stir the cauldron of complexity, then season liberally with discussions of how the protagonist comes to realize that being a jockey is in her future (hint: via supernatural means).
There's social commentary ("Nobody seemed the least bit bent out of shape when members of that association forced a woman to dig up literally hundreds of begonias she had planted next to her house because they were the wrong color. It seems that the flowers in question were an off shade of white and only pink flowers were allowed."), there are moments of revelation accompanied by moments of down-to-earth reality ("I could not help figuring that despite the hard travelling he had endured Roberto was luckier than me in a way. He did not owe anybody anything because he was getting precious little from them. That man was free, while I certainly was not because my parents remained convinced that I owed them a great deal. They expected me to be a dutiful daughter fixated on her school work in return for their having given me the “luxurious” life I was leading; I was figuratively if not literally shackled by their expectations."), and most of all, there's a teen's growth and coming of age, whether it takes place on Earth or somewhere else.
So don't pick up Racing to Heaven expecting your usual teen horse saga: readers who do so might be disappointed if they're expecting a horse-centric, predictable formula plot. DO choose Racing to Heaven for its unique brand of coming of age story paired with horse-oriented action and social and spiritual reflection. When other horse books are simply pounding around the same track, this one's heading full speed to the winner's circle, spirits flying high.
This young girl paints herself as fat, un-athletic and a stumble bum but she, like the butterfly, eventually changes from an 180 pound girl to a 110 pound young lady with great athletic prowess. How you might say?? Yep. That is the question. Her dramatic change seems to have to do with an unusual horse she calls Big Red. She meets him at her Aunt's ranch. What happens next is a desire that a lot of young girls hold. This huge, highly excitable horse and she become buddies. She rides him.. he "talks" to her. They go all over the ranch together.. real? Or imagined. But it is the stuff little girls dream of to be sure.
She then moves on to riding at a local barn. This certainly seems possible but it doesn't stay in the typical form of reality I know. Midnight bike rides. Wild jumping sprees in the barn arena with nobody the wiser..dream? or magic.
As time progresses, Brenda lets go of a lot of the teenage anguish and tantrums of her younger self. Her parents are mentally "divorced" from her and she seems allowed to do as she pleases. She still has "conversations" with "Big Red" but only in her head. She ends up heading for a near-by race track where she makes the acquaintance of a young x-jocky who seems to be doing odd jobs and helping out new jockey's. Roberto befriends Brenda. Eventually teaches her how to ride a race horse. Finds horses for her to exercise. Then for her to ride in the races. OK.. dreamworld here. Again. None of this is possible at normal racetrack. You have to be over 16, you have to have a license. Owner's don't let 16 year old girls ride their racehorses… but in Brenda's world they do.
I am not at all sure what Harriet Tramer is trying to show us. Adolescent turmoil? What goes on behind those little girl eyes? The hormones of youth can cause some very unusual responses? Or that there can be unusual flights off fantasy behind adolescent actions. But whatever it is, I want to end up in the Heaven that Brenda goes to.