For the first 10 years of her life, Lily Casey Smith, the narrator of this "true-life novel" by her granddaughter, Walls, lived in a dirt dugout in west Texas. Walls, whose megaselling memoir, The Glass Castle, recalled her own upbringing, writes in what she recalls as Lily's plainspoken voice, whose recital provides plenty of drama and suspense as she ricochets from one challenge to another. Having been educated in fits and starts because of her parents' penury, Lily becomes a teacher at age 15 in a remote frontier town she reaches after a solo 28-day ride. Marriage to a bigamist almost saps her spirit, but later she weds a rancher with whom she shares two children and a strain of plucky resilience. (They sell bootleg liquor during Prohibition, hiding the bottles under a baby's crib.) Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and fearless breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player. Assailed by flash floods, tornados and droughts, Lily never gets far from hardscrabble drudgery in several states-New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois-but hers is one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women that will always find an audience. (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
No one familiar with Walls's affecting memoir, The Glass Castle, will be surprised by her subtitle here: Walls is a careful observer who can give true-life stories the rush and immediacy of the best fiction. Here she novelizes the life of her grandmother, giving herself just the latitude she needs to create a great story. Lily Casey Smith is one astonishing woman, tough enough to trot her pony across several hundred miles of desert to her first job when she's only a teenager. After a brief stint in Chicago and marriage to a flim-flam man, she's back in the West, teaching again and eventually remarrying, helping her fine new husband at the gas station, raising her children, and running hootch if she must to make ends meet during the Depression. Her story is at once simple and utterly remarkable, for this is one remarkable woman-a half-broke horse herself who's clearly passed on her best traits to her granddaughter. Verdict Told in a natural, offhand voice that is utterly enthralling, this is essential reading for anyone who loves good fiction-or any work about the American West. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/09.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"Jeannette Walls . . . once again proves that the combination of gifted storyteller with great stories is both rare and intoxicating."--The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[An] eloquent tribute to a pragmatic heroine . . . A powerhouse--fast-moving, fearless and impossible to forget."--Michelle Green, People
[Jeannette Walls is] the third generation of a line of indomitable women whose paths she has inscribed on the permanent record, enriching the common legend of our American past."--Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review (cover review)