We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel | [Jeannette Walls]

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel

Jeannette Walls's memoir The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now, in Half Broke Horses, she brings us the story of her grandmother, told in a first-person voice that is authentic, irresistible, and triumphant.
Regular Price:$31.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Audible Editor Reviews

Based on the true story of the life of Jeanette Walls’ grandmother, Half-broke Horses is the endearing tale of Lily Casey Smith, a woman born into poverty in the early 1900s frontier of west Texas. Intelligent, despite her spotted 8th grade education, Smith knows her purpose on earth is more than just breaking-in horses on her daddy’s farm and she sets off across the desert at age 15 to teach children in Arizona. Smith is scrappy and independent, clearly a woman before her time. In her early 20s when she learns that the traveling salesman she married actually already has a wife and kids, she puts her six-shooter revolver with the pearl handle in her purse and hits him with it, giving him a good “pistol-whippin’”.

Walls, the best-selling author of her own memoir The Glass Castle, tells her grandmother’s story in a matter-of-fact, no-nonsense way — probably much in same way as her grandmother shared these stories with her. It can be shocking that Smith speaks of her best friend’s death in the same tone as she does of, say, playing a hand of poker, but it’s realistic — a snapshot of the era. In her narration, Walls’ accent is a bit mottled — a little southern, with hints of other dialects thrown in — which can be distracting at times, but it also suits Smith, a girl from west Texas who had an Irish father with a speech impediment.

Smith does find true happiness with her second husband and eventually settles down (if you can call selling whiskey during Prohibition by hiding it under her baby’s crib “settling down”). But this heroine’s adventures — racing horses, surviving flash floods and tornadoes, and playing poker — will stick with you long after Walls has finished describing them. —Colleen Oakley

Publisher's Summary

Jeannette Walls's memoir The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now, in Half Broke Horses, she brings us the story of her grandmother, told in a first-person voice that is authentic, irresistible, and triumphant.

"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 15, she left home to teach in a frontier town - riding 500 miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane. And, with her husband Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom 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 audiences everywhere.

©2009 Jeanette Walls; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

"Lily Casey Smith is one astonishing woman...a half-broke horse herself who's clearly passed on her best traits to her granddaughter. Told in a natural, offhand voice that is utterly enthralling, this is essential reading for anyone who loves good fiction." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (950 )
5 star
 (353)
4 star
 (333)
3 star
 (175)
2 star
 (63)
1 star
 (26)
Overall
4.1 (423 )
5 star
 (171)
4 star
 (158)
3 star
 (74)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (8)
Story
4.1 (426 )
5 star
 (191)
4 star
 (140)
3 star
 (58)
2 star
 (25)
1 star
 (12)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    James P Carter PENSACOLA, FLORIDA, US 01-08-10
    James P Carter PENSACOLA, FLORIDA, US 01-08-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    193
    16
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Mildly entertaining"

    This is a period story that takes place at the turn of the century. I enjoy history so some of the descriptions of life during this time were appealing. Overall though the narrative is very average and a little over done. I kept waiting for something to happen but this is a pretty simple story about life. If your wanting to be enthralled don't buy this book.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen L. Smith 01-05-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "agonizing"

    This is the story of the plucky but wise country girl who always lands on top and outsmarts every adversary, every time.

    Every. Single. Time.

    There is absolutely no drama. None. To make this even more boring, the author is a dreadful narrator whose voice rises with every sentence and falls at every hard stop. When she called her "no good worthless first husband" a "crumb-bum" for something like the one-dozenth time, I turned it off.

    I couldn't finish it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Steffensmeier 12-04-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    "Great Book"

    I loved this book and have recommended it to everyone. It is a must read/listen. I am glad I picked this one first and now listening to "The Glass Castle"

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rae lancaster, PA, United States 06-28-14
    Rae lancaster, PA, United States 06-28-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Prequel to Glass Castles"
    What did you like best about Half Broke Horses? What did you like least?

    I'm not certain I would have liked this book as a stand alone, but it was wonderful to learn about the author's mother. When I read Glass Castles, I didn't understand how her parents could behave the way they did.


    Would you recommend Half Broke Horses to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would only recommend Half Broke Horses to my friends who have read Glass Castles.


    What does Jeannette Walls bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I think the author's accent made all the difference, after all, it is about her grandmother.


    Do you think Half Broke Horses needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    It has a follow-up book, Glass Castles.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia MADISON, WI, United States 06-13-14
    Patricia MADISON, WI, United States 06-13-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding book!"
    What did you love best about Half Broke Horses?

    I loved everything about this book. The book is extremely well written. Great story and I love that it is based on the author's grandmother's actual life. I was sad that it had to end. Make certain that you listen to the very end because the author tells us about how she wrote the story. I really enjoyed that also.


    Have you listened to any of Jeannette Walls’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I also listened to The Glass Castle. I thoroughly enjoyed both books.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jallred 05-03-14
    jallred 05-03-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful Book"
    If you could sum up Half Broke Horses in three words, what would they be?

    A Must Read!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The reflection on a time and way of life that has all but been forgotten.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jodi california 02-17-14
    jodi california 02-17-14 Member Since 2012

    jodi-s

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "wanted to like it"

    The story was somewhat interesting. But I found myself waiting for it to end so I could get to my next book, all-the while, hoping it would get better. One of the biggest problems was the narration. She sounded like a high school kid reading her report to her class, Boring! She made a book that could have had some potential into a frustrating listen. She should leave the narration to the pros and stick to writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 01-04-14
    Nancy ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 01-04-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding"
    What made the experience of listening to Half Broke Horses the most enjoyable?

    Jeanette Walls narration. She became her grandmother during the course of the novel. I even found myself speaking in her rhythm a few times. She was no nonsense kind of gal and I've been accused of being the same. Struck a cord.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Half Broke Horses?

    Lily's trek to AZ for her first teaching job at the age of 15.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Didn't have a favorite scene, but her comment about suicide being a selfish act has stuck with me.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reaction. I felt more empowered afterwards though. That gal had moxey.


    Any additional comments?

    Good read, uh, er, listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Onc Man Kansas City 01-02-14
    Onc Man Kansas City 01-02-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really tried to finish it but couldn't take it."

    I'm not sure what a "true life novel" is but this was just bad. Is it a novel? Is it a biography? Regardless, the main character was so full of herself that I had to stop reading. I really tried. I wanted to like it. I almost made it to the end but just couldn't do it. Somewhere in the middle I thought she might redeem herself but nope, still completely full of herself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Addison, TX, United States 11-08-13
    Stephanie Addison, TX, United States 11-08-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great!"
    Where does Half Broke Horses rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    one of the best! Kept me motivated to go running by wanting to know what was going to happen next. Fascinating


    What did you like best about this story?

    the storyline


    Which character – as performed by Jeannette Walls – was your favorite?

    Lily


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 21-30 of 90 results PREVIOUS12349NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

CANCEL

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.