Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel

Written by:
Jeannette Walls
Narrated by:
Jeannette Walls

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
October 2009
7 hours 56 minutes
From the author of The Glass Castle and Hang the Moon—“Walls vividly depicts her astonishing, resilient grandmother with a lightness of touch that is plainspoken yet heartfelt” (Chicago Tribune). Half Broke Horses has transfixed readers everywhere.

“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane. And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one who is Jeannette’s memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.

Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. 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.
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Suzanne M.

An awesome listen. Please dont miss out on this book. You will be so inspired to be more than you are!

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I could visualize so much during this it felt like a true experience.

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Great story! Wish I were so strong!!

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Brad D.

I am amazed at how much I saw this, not listened to it! The picture in my head was so vivid. What an amazing family.

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Lauren O.

This has been an exquisite and juicy read. It really drops you into the thick of lily’s life and you get a sense that you are there and you are her, rooting for things to turn out all right every step of the way, but they don’t turn out all right because life’s not ideal. As hardship after hardship befall this strong spirited woman she shows no bruises, almost to a fault at times where life has been knocking her down so many years she’s in a continuous state of getting back up and she doesn’t know how to show vulnerability in front of her daughter. This book taught me something. Hardships are not a sign that the life chosen was the wrong one. Hardships are life, and there’s nothing to do but weather them. I admire lily’s strong and wild spirit and her can-do attitude. I was happy for her when she found a partner in life that appreciated her strength and gumption, and slightly heartbroken for her daughter as the pages went on. It felt from the time rosemary entered the picture that there was so much at stake there, that rosemary had to make it for all the women that had gone before her that didn’t, that rosemary was going to be the one to have a good stable life and keep her sense about her. I was torn between the love i felt for lily and how much i identified with her strong will in an age that wasnt ready to accept it and the empathy i felt for creative young rosemary who loved the animals destined for slaughter and tried to set everything she encountered free. It is a powerful good book that can make you love two characters in staunch disagreement with each other with equal passion. I am sad that i have finished it for each chapter leaves you wanting more.

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Jeanine T.

Great story and great narrator

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Marcyne B

A very admirable account of strength when needed. Jeannette Walls is becoming a favorite author of mine.

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Great story based on a real woman living in the west during the early years of this country.

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april stroh

I wanted to like this book. Unfortunately it was impossible. I have never left a book feeling more depressed.

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Another great story by this author- enjoyed the entire audio book

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John G

I REALLY tried to like this book, but could not make it past the first CD. Having the author read this book was a massive mistake. It was one of those books where you keep waiting for something to happen.......and waiting.....and waiting......never again. Thank God this is the first book I tried to read by this author. Will save me some time.

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I gave up on this one after the first disk. Wholly uninteresting. I just didn't care at all about what happened to any of the characters.

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This was a very good book, I enjoyed listening. If you like the Glass Castle you will again love this!!!!

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His Rancher Girl

Good listen, amazing life this woman led. Fascinating listen, fast paced very interesting. Read THE GLASS CASTLE the other work by this author, the amazing tale of the authors life.

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I liked this book, but not as much as her first book. I did love the way she described the times in Ameria, especially the old west, but also her times in the big city. She is an excellent story teller. Please keep writing.

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Sooooo good, hated to see it end, hope the Author will write another life story.

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I loved this book. It's full of interesting characters and gives one the feel of western life in the early 20th century. Life was full of hardships but it was lived with a zest and determination all too scarce in our time. Nothing daunted this woman: except her daughter!

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