Monday 28 January 2013
There Must Be Horses by Diana Kimpton. Reviewed by Ann Turnbull
As soon as I got hold of this book I wanted to read it. It looks good, with an appealing cover, soft cream pages and a clear font.
The story is about Sasha, an emotionally damaged twelve-year-old in care. Sasha and her social worker are on their way to a temporary foster home after yet another placement has failed. The social worker is tired. Sasha is stroppy. She didn't get on with the people she'd been living with, but something good had come out of that experience: she'd been able to have riding lessons. Sasha loves horses - and now she dreads another change.
But when they arrive she finds that her new foster carers, Beth and Joe, train and rehabilitate difficult horses. Sasha is allowed to help care for the horses - in particular one named Meteor. Sasha builds a special bond with Meteor, who has been badly treated in the past and is wary and fearful. With Joe's guidance, she learns how to get him to trust her.
Sasha longs to stay with Beth and Joe, and she tries desperately to make herself indispensable to them so that they will want to keep her. But within a few weeks her social worker tells her she has found her a new, permanent home. Sasha is distraught. Why don't Beth and Joe want her? What can she do to make them change their minds?
I was gripped by this story right from the start. It's so involving, so emotionally intense, that it sweeps you along with it and is almost impossible to put down. Everything is seen through Sasha's eyes, and the drama comes from the powerful feelings she experiences but can't express.
It's written in a clear, simple style that makes the story very accessible. And what a refreshing change it is to read something written in the third person, past tense, with no changes of viewpoint and a straightforward narrative.
I think any horse-mad girl (or boy) would gobble this story up. But you don't need to be a horse-lover to enjoy it. I'm not, but I loved reading about the horses and learned a lot about how they behave and how to care for them. There are no villains here, and no unlikely adventures. It all rings true, and it builds to a tense and highly-charged ending. I've always said I'm one of those readers who never cry - but I did with this one.
Available from Amazon in a print edition or as a Kindle e-book.
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