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TRUE BLUE by Jane Smiley Kirkus Star


From the Horses of Oak Valley Ranch series, volume 3

by Jane Smiley illustrated by Elaine Clayton

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86231-1
Publisher: Knopf

Smiley continues the story of Abby Lovitt and the horses on her family's California ranch in the 1960s.

When family friend and fellow stable-owner Jane sells Abby a horse for the change in her pocket, Abby is thrilled. True Blue, a gorgeous and personable gray, seems full of potential. But he comes with literal baggage—trunks of saddles and bridles and, most spookily, his dead former owner's boots. Abby shoves them out of sight, but she can't ignore Blue's own spookiness—he leaps and shies away from things no one else can see. Soon Abby is convinced that she, too, sees a ghost woman riding him. Meanwhile, Abby breaks her wrist, and an incident at her church brings her father's relationship with her estranged brother to a head. Abby has already learned how quickly things can go wrong—but now she learns that, sometimes, everything can also be put right. Readers who have been with this story from the beginning will enjoy watching narrator Abby continue to grow; newcomers will want to go back and start at the beginning with The Georges and the Jewels (2009).

Smiley's pristine, graceful prose and thoroughly real characters make this a novel to savor. (Historical fiction. 10 & up)