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Extended Audio Sample Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel Audiobook, by Jeannette Walls Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00003516669011 out of 53.00003516669011 out of 53.00003516669011 out of 53.00003516669011 out of 53.00003516669011 out of 5 3.00 (56,872 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeannette Walls Narrator: Jeannette Walls Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2009 ISBN: 9780743597234
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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 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 ("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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[An] eloquent tribute to a pragmatic heroine…A powerhouse—fast-moving, fearless and impossible to forget.” 

    People 

  • 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
  • “Jeannette Walls…once again proves that the combination of gifted storyteller with great stories is both rare and intoxicating.” 

    Cleveland Plain Dealer 

  • “Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and fearless breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • A 2010 Audie Award Finalist
  • Selected for the October 2009 Indie Next List
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2009 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicollette | 9/26/2016

    " Lily Casey's story is incredibly interesting and Jeannette Walls does an amazing job of keeping you engaged the entire time (or it could be Lily!) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karin | 2/19/2014

    " I enjoyed this book. I had read and liked Glass Castle a couple years ago. Half Broke Horses tells about the life of Jeannette's grandmother, so is sort of a prequel to Glass Castle. It is filled with interesting stories about their lives and the the people and places of the time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie Mossakowski | 2/11/2014

    " I read The Glass Castle first and I was slightly disappointed in Wall's second book. Saying that seems slightly unfair due to this book being loosely based on the life of her grandmother. Maybe Wall's childhood appeals to me more. Nonetheless it was good. It was short and sweet, full of the dark humor is loved in the first. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brenda Burleson | 2/8/2014

    " Jeannette Walls has a fascinating history. Read this book in conjunction with The Glass Castle to get a full appreciation of her life and how she rose above it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marla | 2/2/2014

    " I like to think of myself as a strong person, but I don't know if I would have made it back in Lily's time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gail | 1/25/2014

    " This book is about an "indomitable" woman in the Southwest U.S. (for the most part). I wanted to like it more, but it became fairly boring by the middle. It could have been better, perhaps, as a novella, or a long short story, with better characterizations and more emotion. I understand the author's book "Glass Castle" is quite good, so perhaps it is something to look for in the future. I was disappointed with this book, for sure. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsay | 1/23/2014

    " I love Jeannette Walls' short little chapters - helps me stay interested and reading much more in a sitting. This was a fascinating book about her grandmother - though not as trilling as The Glass Castle. A good read! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mitzi Trzeciak | 1/23/2014

    " Boring read. It was like having a phone conversation. Didn't take much to get through it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tina | 12/31/2013

    " You know those books that you finish, where you have to take a deep breath and mourn that it's over? Yeah....that. What a great story! I think I enjoyed it more because it was about real people, though the author admits she had to fill in the gaps on a lot of things. I really enjoyed this and her other novel, "The Glass Castle". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Marchione | 12/29/2013

    " Loved this book! It was well written in simple clear story telling without a lot of fancy hard to understand prose. The main character Lily was shown as a tough but crazy independent woman and had some amazing (and true!) stories about her life. I wish it had been twice as long because I would have loved to keep reading it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ramona | 12/28/2013

    " Fabulous insight into another generation. Also loved the rural setting. I related to much of the story. It brought back memories of when I as a little girl, so much so that I could almost smell the outhouse.........thank God for modern conveniences! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dorothy Webb | 12/25/2013

    " I could picture this happening. Incredible story! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Farlinger | 12/8/2013

    " If you like The Glass Castle you'll like this one. We go back to the author's grandmother and her extraordinary life. What I found fascinating is how the sensibilities changed from one generation to the next. It felt true because it is true! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ainsley | 12/1/2013

    " Why is the phrase "half-broke horses" correctly hyphenated throughout the text, but not in the title? "True-Life Novel" is correctly hyphenated, so why not the title of the book? This bugged me from the first page to the last. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mischa Bates | 11/29/2013

    " More like a 3.5. I enjoyed this book, but I liked The Glass Castle much more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathi Mueller-foshee | 11/23/2013

    " I found myself almost as caught up in this one as I did Glass Houses. Very enjoyable and read it within a couple of days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Keith Bell | 11/15/2013

    " A fun read from the author of The Glass Castle. A biography told in story format that was very entertaining. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alicia Miller | 7/23/2013

    " Just as good as "The Glass Castle". Explains a lot.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Krista | 12/25/2012

    " I thought this was a beautiful story, I loved that it was more fictional than her first book. It probably is really 4.5 stars but it's a great book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria | 7/1/2012

    " Interesting, well written. There are some interesting stories in Lily's life, though she is a hard woman and a hard mother. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin Percy | 6/28/2012

    " It was really great and narrated well. However, I only gave it 4 stars because it wasn't quite as amazing as Glass Castle. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dana | 5/17/2012

    " I loved this book more than I was expecting to! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barb | 4/21/2012

    " Also, thought this was even better than Walls first book. Lily is a strong, colorful character and the portrayal of life in the West was interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Corina Johnson | 4/11/2012

    " I didn't like this story as much as Walls' incredible story "The Glass Castle" but it is still a great read and I will definitely read anything she writes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ronda | 2/19/2012

    " I really enjoyed this book. A nice, quick, somewhat historical read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maegan Blackwell | 2/17/2012

    " Loved this "true life novel". "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bryce Emley | 1/12/2012

    " maybe i just never got a grasp of the voice, but i thought it was sort of inconsistent. the stories are interesting enough, but i didn't think it was quite as good as her first book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen Graves | 12/10/2011

    " Since my father has a cattle ranch in Texas, I was fascinated. I liked the story and will always remember how important it is to break the ice on a lake--so the cows can stay hydrated. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 C | 5/23/2011

    " An historical novel based on the life of Walls' grandmother. It was a tough life and she started living it as a young teenager. She finally reaches her dream of becoming a teacher, but along the way she is affected by the dust bowl, depression and poverty of living on a ranch in the west. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy | 5/23/2011

    " Based on the life of the author's grandmother. I enjoyed "Glass Castle" but I liked this one better. The characters seemed to be in more control of difficult situations. It helped me to understand the author's mother a bit better. I didn't like the way it comes to an end. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mary | 5/22/2011

    " started out thinking this would be a good read. Unfortunately it was far from that. One of the worst books I've ever read, only finished it because my mother read it and said it got so ridiculous it was almost funny. Doesn't deserve even half a star. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 bbstew | 5/21/2011

    " Really enjoyed her, but not as good as Glass Castles "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 5/21/2011

    " This is the true story of Jeannette Walls grandmother. So you can sort of get an idea about why her parents were so crazy. It was a very quick read. Very interesting and entertaining! If you liked Glass Castle- you will also enjoy this!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cassie | 5/20/2011

    " I COULD put this book down as opposed to "The Glass Castle" which I couldn't. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan | 5/20/2011

    " A true story of an incredible young woman growing up in the wild west. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 5/20/2011

    " Good book. Very interesting and a fun read. Not as good as Glass Castles by her, which was FABULOUS, but I loved getting the history on her grandma and mom's life. It helped put Glass Castles more into perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Smehta | 5/19/2011

    " Story of an amazing woman who lived on a ranch in Arizona before and during the Depression.

    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tina | 5/18/2011

    " Love Glass Castle by Ms. Walls so I grabbed this one. Not as gripping as Glass Castle but this tale of her maternal grandmother's life is very eye opening, says a lot about the life of the people living through that period of time, and is a testament to a strong woman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Niki | 5/17/2011

    " I found this book fascinating and now I want to read The Glass Castle again... "

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About the Author
Author Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls graduated from Barnard College and worked as a journalist in New York for two decades. Her internationally bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, is a triumphant account of overcoming a difficult childhood and was chosen as Elle magazine’s book of the year. She is a recipient of numerous honors and awards. Walls and her husband, writer John Taylor, live in rural Virginia.