An 11-year-old girl born and raised by a white supremacist faction where disloyalty is a death sentence, has been purloined by the FBI and deposited with her aunt and uncle she has never known, on their large ranch where his income as a best-selling author goes to rescuing abused and neglected horses.
“Callen (the girl) is sorry she hurt Isabella (her aunt), but maybe now she and Eli (her uncle) would understand that it didn’t matter if she liked them and the horses and the ranch and just about everything by Isky’s (the Mayan cook’s) food, she would do anything to get back with the Brethren.” The book pits brother against brother for the welfare of a child who remains loyal to the crazies who now want to kill her.
There is nothing much more unattractive than a child spewing racism except that it can be chalked up to ignorance and indoctrination such as “breeds and muds have small, inferior brains.” But Callen is a bright child who now has access to all sorts of books which she reads. She also makes it her personal mission to rescue a half-starved colt. The author has taken an unpalatable subject and made it a teaching experience.
Having spent the ages 9-14 as a horse-crazy book addict and reading everything I could find on horses, and drawing horses so often that even today I can draw a beautiful horse purely from memory, this book is a winner from a backcountry writer’s point of view, that even precocious young horse-crazy readers will enjoy.
As an adult I also confess that I will be attending the Southern California Writer’s Conference in September and taking a class from Drusilla Campbell, so wanted to read some of her work. A win-win all the way around.