The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde (2015-02-01) School & Library Binding – January 1, 1827
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- ASIN : B01FKUYUHS
- Publisher : Center Point (January 1, 1827)
- Customer Reviews:
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Although a bit on the original side, the story is about what makes a family and a community. The book begins with two women Jackie (a painter) and Paula (a veterinarian and an animal lover) who are legally married to each other, and who, having experienced negative input of their relationship, move to a small village in California with their adopted son Quinn and their two foster children, Star and Mando. Star is the latest addition to the family and Mando resents her for creating havoc in the otherwise well-adjusted family.
Their next-door neighbor Clementine and her husband have a horse named Comet that used to belong to their now-dead daughter. Star forms a relationship with the high-strung Comet and seems to understand the horse’s frustration at the lack of care by his present owners; however, Clementine resents Star and chases her away from her property numerous times. Clementine is not only nasty to star but to her mothers Jackie and Paula, too. When Star steals Comet and they are both lost, the real action in the story commences. The rest, what happens to Mando, Star, Comet, and the other characters, readers have to read the book to find out.
As to the characters, Clementine and Jackie are the two narrators of the story, each taking an alternating chapter to tell their side of the events. Clementine is a poor soul who is terribly damaged by her daughter’s suicide and her husband’s deserting her since he couldn’t take her anymore. The other people in the story are unique and carefully developed, including the secondary characters, and they are all portrayed with utmost care. Not just the characters but the important issues like the police, the judicial system, adoption, foster care, lesbianism, racism, mental illness, suicide, and desertion are also addressed with care and respect. The ending is a positive one, and I think no reader will be disappointed with this story.
The setting as to the neighborhood and the town’s internal structure is described to perfection to match the author’s clear and beautiful writing style that hooks the reader right at the beginning and never releases until the last word.
While I loved a great deal of this book, and it's exceptionally well written and edited, I simply could not buy into the latter part of it. More specifically, the relationship between Star and Clementine, the two least fleshed out characters.
I loved the animals, and self-made family!
I've tagged this as lesbian romance, as two of the main characters are a married gay couple. However, don't go thinking it's a romance. It's not.
I bought this book as a coming of age story. It either didn't fit the bill or my belief of what that means, is way off
I have to say how very moved I was by the wonderful mature relationship between Paula & Jackie. There are so many "just starting out" romances, it is a pleasure to see a loving couple who know each other well. I also loved how each member of the family (and the neighbor) had their own personality and arc through the story that felt real and meaningful. I am pretty sure I will listen to this book again and again (and not just because the Audible edition is read by Laural Merlington and another reader. Laural is my favorite reader ever.)
Top reviews from other countries
Immediate immersion into the world of Jackie and Paula (the mothers) Star (the recently fostered 15 year old girl) Mando (the 13 year old fostered boy) and Quinn (the adopted 4 year old son) not to mention a posse of dogs and cats. The story opens with the family driving to their new home in the small country town of Easley.
Clementine (their neighbour) is full of rage and pain and is renowned locally for her hostile attitude. She suffered a violent loss 2 years earlier and is doing her best to not to let the grief break through. As the story opens, the new arrivals across the way, coincide with her husband giving up on her and walking out. She has a beautiful horse called Comet, that she can't bring herself to take care of properly. Comet has been shut in a too small paddock for the last 2 years and is desperate for space and movement.
This book is about various journeys, both literal and symbolic. It is told in the alternate voices of Jackie and Clementine. Star and Comet kind of save each other... Star and Clementine kind of save each other too... Jackie and Paula explore some of the edges of their intimacy that they know well and yet are also new... Mando has his own personal rite of passage with the help of a local deputy, that is redemptive for all sorts of reasons... Quinn somehow holds the heart of the family in his small boy's chest...
This is a lovely book. Read it, I say and let it touch you. I think Ms. Ryan Hyde writes contemporary parables... what I mean by that is, that her stories are about people we can see and feel ourselves in. Not because we have had the same direct experience (though we might have done in some cases) but because the narratives of the heart are so exquisitely human, and we can all can all recognise and resonate with that. She writes so well. I love her lyrical and spare style. I enjoy how much she can tell us about something without unpacking it. For example, the complexity and range of Jackie and Paula's partnership is so powerfully drawn, without a lot of obvious historic detail. A brilliant skill. And, yes, she writes about brokenness... and then rather than miraculously fixing what's broken, the winding trails of her stories take her people and animals to ways of living with, including, softening around and even celebrating the broken bits. As Leonard Cohen says, we are all broken, everything is broken... it's the way of things... and it's those cracks in everything that let the light stream in... There is a lot of light and tenderness in CRH's writing. And a lot of human messiness. Like life.