Source Received from the author
Published by Red Deer Press on May 31, 2013
Received from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
Grace is looking forward to spending her summer weekends at horse shows riding new and spirited horse Sprite to the medal podium. But things don't always go as planned. It seems that her summer is ruined when Sprite is sold by the riding stable to a new owner. Other opportunities present themselves however - Grace is now going to live her dream. She will be spending all summer working with horses in her new job helping the trainers at the stables. With handsome new coworker Matt and a fragile, damaged mare that needs extra special care, Grace's summer seems perfect. She can't hide from the truth though - the eating disorder that she is starting to acknowledge but not truly understand is rearing its ugly head and threatens to derail everything. Will she be able to heal herself along with the horses she is caring for?
I was happy to have the opportunity to review a book by a local author!
I enjoyed this book. Right away, I liked Grace. She was a nice, likeable girl but when we come into the story, she seems to have been dealing with an eating disorder for some time. The author interview in the back of the book reveals that she had an eating disorder in the past, and I think she’s written a story that presents the state of mind of someone with an eating disorder really well. I felt that I could follow Grace’s reasons and motivations for her behaviour.
In addition to Sprite, the horse she’s been riding, being sold to a new owner, Grace is dealing with some family issues. Her father lives in England, leaving her to live with her stepmother and younger brother. While they get along, Grace’s stepmother is attending counseling with Grace for her eating disorder, which causes tension between the two of them. But Grace is offered a job at her stable, which seems like the perfect way to spend her summer: she can avoid meals and burn extra calories, not to mention working with the very cute Matt all summer. Things seem to be going well, but through peeks into Grace’s journal – where she tracks her calories and exercise – she seems to be on the edge of losing control.
I really liked reading about working at the barn and horse-riding. It’s a totally different world, and I don’t think I’ve ever read any books involving horses. I haven’t even read classics like Black Beauty! I really enjoyed reading a contemporary story that managed to feel unique from the others I’ve read before.
The romance that developed between Matt and Grace was sweet. It moved slowly, which I found realistic, and I liked that Matt challenged Grace. He could see what she was doing to herself with her eating disorder and wasn’t going to be willfully blind to it. There was an especially great section of the book where the barn takes in some mistreated horses, and Grace had a moment where she was tending to a malnourished horse and reflects on the way the horse had no control over the way its owner had treated it, yet Grace was purposely starving herself. In the end, I was happy to see Grace on the path to healing.
The story was well written, and at times I could feel myself in the fields with Grace, with the scents of summer on the breeze. There was a late-developing twist involving Grace’s father that I felt like was resolved a bit quickly, perhaps because I was interested in learning more about her father and their relationship, but my overall opinion on the book is that it was a well-written, enjoyable story, and by a Canadian author! This is definitely a recommended read!
Reviews by Canadian authors – and even one for local Ottawa writers – would be a cool review category. Are there many YA authors based in Ottawa?
I don’t know! I’ll have to look into that!