Platt returns with another well-worn horse story.
Thirteen-year-old Ali hasn’t owned a horse since her pony, Max, broke his leg in an accident two years previously. Now, an increasingly senile neighbor seems to be starving her two Appaloosa horses, and Ali’s best friend convinces her to sneak into the neighbor’s barn at night to check on the animals. After animal control takes possession of the horses, Ali’s parents act to put the horses into her care, hoping to rekindle her interest in riding. Meanwhile, her older brother, Danny, is suffering physically and mentally from injuries he received fighting in Afghanistan. Can caring for the abused horses help heal these siblings? Of course it can. The plot broadcasts itself from the opening chapter. The emotional changes happen a bit too fast to feel realistic, and vague, puzzling references to Ali’s riding accident—which she feels somehow caused her brother to join the Army, thus placing the blame for his injuries on her—should have been either eliminated or more fully explained. The abuse and rehabilitation of the horses is handled well, however, fully developed without sensationalism or melodrama. A sweet ending points to a more hopeful future.
Not ground-breaking but one of Platt’s better works; horse-crazy kids will love it, as always. (Fiction. 8-13)