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THE OUTSIDE OF A HORSE by Ginny Rorby

THE OUTSIDE OF A HORSE

By Ginny Rorby

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3478-4
Publisher: Dial

Sentimentality battles cruelty in this overdrawn middle-grade novel. Twelve-year-old Hannah begins work at a nearby stable as a way to connect with her father in Iraq; when he comes home missing a leg and emotionally shattered, parallels between him and rescued horses begin. Hannah’s father suffers flashbacks, drinks too much and patrols the house with his assault rifle. Her stepmother moves out, leaving Hannah alone with him. Instead of ensuring Hannah’s safety, the adults at the barn suggest equine therapy. Rorby loads her narrative with graphic descriptions of every possible kind of equine abuse and suffering, without any leavening—even the foal Hannah loves is attacked by dogs. None of the characters come alive (the women at the stable are interchangeable) and many of the details ring false. Would Hannah really not have been told for three months that her father had been injured, for instance? The foals of mares farmed for estrogen, animal hoarders, Barbaro, horses stabbed in Mexican slaughterhouses—it’s all here. Manipulative and overwrought—the last book to give to a horse-mad 13-year-old girl. (Fiction. 12 & up)