Half-Broke Horses

Jeanette Walls

Jeanette Walls, grand daughter of Lily Casey, with her horse.

Book Summary

This book is about Lily Casey Smith, a woman growing up on a ranch who makes her way to the big city and back again, forging her own trail as she goes. She is an independent woman, and right from a young child she is very driven and confident. Her no-nonsense attitude saves her and her siblings right at the beginning of the story, and as she grows up she gets her first experience with the city and untrustworthy men. She moves on and finds a job teaching, and eventually meets her husband, Jim. Together they work a ranch, live in the city, and move back onto inherited property all while working to make ends meet and raising two children, little Jim and Rosemary, Lily's crazy daughter. The book is excellently written and it feels like you're living Lily's life, not just reading about it.

Author's Purpose

I believe the purpose of this book is to inform you of what life was like on the frontier during the great depression, and the changes in women's role in the house and in society, but it's entertaining too!

Three concepts I learned

-You can't rely on someone else to take care of you, you have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and be you're own caretaker.

-You can't decide what kind of people your children will be.

-You have to be open to change or you will be stuck where you are now forever.

Lily Casey at age 13

Greatest Impression

There is a part in the book where Lily moves to the city and runs into some men who can't break a horse and keep getting thrown, and they "trick" her into giving him a ride, hoping she'll get thrown and it will be a good laugh, since the assume she's just some girl from the city. She shocks them all by being an excellent horse woman, and stick the horse just fine, breaking the mustang nobody else could. It's a really inspiring moment, she proved them all wrong!


I give this book a 3.5-4. I definitely thought it was a good book, and certainly a fast and easy read. The only thing missing was that it didn't captivate me or fascinate me. It's not that it was hard to pick up and read, it just wasn't one of those books you just can't put down.


-The first paragraph is the last one on page 93, where Lily breaks the mustang and shocks all the men. I chose this paragraph because I think it perfectly shows what kind of woman Lily Casey was.

-My second paragraph was on page 250, where Rex is admiring Rosemary's paintings, it shows how guys SHOULD treat women, and how times were changing.

Social Issue

This book address women's rights and their role in society. It shows that women can be leaders too, they can run a ranch, and that they were on their way to being able to be head of the household. Lily shows how women don't have to be subordinate, they are equals, and women can be their own boss. It was a subtle revolution, she shift in women's role from subordinate to partner.