Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Horse is Never Wrong book review


I'm pretty sure I said like 2 years ago I was going to review the book, The Horse is Never Wrong, by Mary Pagones.  I'm really not that slow of a reader I swear.  First, let start off by saying I'm pretty sure I have no idea how to do a book review.  Do you do it in school where you summaraize the entire book and basically give away the main story?  Or do you do it spoiler free?  I guess you're going to get my own version of a book review, with a big dose of introspection.  This book hit home a bit for me.

This book is about a girl named Heather, who has been diagnosed with ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder), by her school psychologist.  It follows Heather as she starts to take lessons at a local riding stable, and as she learns more about herself.  As a horse person I appreciated reading a book that had horse stuff in it that wasn't God awful.  Heather doesn't show up for her first riding lesson ever and ends up riding into the sunset on the brindle stallion that nobody else has ever ridden before, and she doesn't win a major race on a breed not eligable to be entered.  She, and the reader, learns about the right way to do things, about dressage, about jumping, and about taking lessons on the appropriate horse for her skill level.  This book is a good way for a horse crazy young adult to learn about horse things from an author who has ridden an actual real live horse.

Now, let's talk about what I didn't like, here's where it gets deep folks.  Heather reminded me a bit of myself as a young person.  I felt the same sense of being the awkward outsider struggling to understand friends, enemies, and the intricacies of school.  It was uncomfortable looking at someone who had some of the same thoughts and feelings that I did.  Who struggled to understand why someone would pretend that they liked you, only to use your knowledge to pass an exam.  Why girls always seemed to run in packs.  Unlike myself, Heather was neatly labeled as being different and thus wrong, and went to lots of counseling sessions which frankly pissed me off.  I felt sorry for her.  Her she had to sit with someone who spent the entire session telling her she was wrong, and patiently trying to have her act like a normal back stabbing high school girl.  Who told her she was fixated on riding and it wouldn't do her any good.

In the book luckily Heather doesn't listen to her psychologist, and she eventually discovers that she belongs in the horse world, where she was welcomed with open arms and the only thing people cared about was how well she rode the horse she was on.  She had something in common, she had something she did well, and all of a sudden she didn't have a damn bit of trouble making friends.  I didn't think that this book helped people understand Autism, I think that is a misprint.  I think it helps people understand that labels suck, mean girls are everywhere, and you just need to find where you belong.

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