Saving Baby by Jo Anne Normile
Kirkus Star

Saving Baby

How One Woman's Love for a Racehorse Led to Her Redemption

KIRKUS REVIEW

In horse lover and activist Normile’s memoir (co-authored with seasoned writer Lindner), she fights for the humane treatment of ex-racehorses.

Compelled by the idea of owning a thoroughbred, Normile acquires “Baby” from an ailing breeder, with the stipulation that she races him. Driven by a competitive spirit rather than financial gain, her main priority is ensuring her new horse’s well-being. Normile becomes indoctrinated in the early 1990s subculture of Detroit horse racing—and the corner-cutting and corruption that lurk in the unregulated sport. Her tender love for Baby compares to a mother’s love for her child who’s all the more vulnerable due to his inability to express himself. Baby shows promise as a winner, but due to a series of unsavory experiences, he never reaches his potential. He eventually meets a tragic, untimely end resulting from negligence on the track. This heart-wrenching loss launches Normile into a fight to protect other horses from the same fate. She’s motivated further when she learns some dark truths behind the industry, like the legal practice that has retired racehorses being slaughtered and sold for meat. Ultimately, she helms a nonprofit rescue that matches retired thoroughbreds with new owners. Like many tireless and committed activists, she sacrifices her family relationships and personal well-being for her cause. With the help of Lindner’s first class storytelling, action and emotion equally drive this compelling tale that will bring on the waterworks for any animal lover. The horses Normile loves are portrayed as dynamically as human beings, with imagined dialogue Normile gleans from their body language. Early in the book, she describes Baby’s departure from his mother and siblings: “There were cries and whinnies from the other horses as the trailers left. ‘Where are you going? We thought you were home to stay,’ ” the others horses are imagined saying. “Baby himself didn’t appear to be nervous. ‘I’ll be back,’ he whinnied confidently. ‘Just gone for a bit—have to make my mark.’ ”

A touching narrative that transcends its subject matter.

Pub Date: April 16th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0988878006
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Powder Point Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2013




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