A gracefully written, but overplotted and over-schematized, death-in-the-family trauma--with a strong horsey interest, JoBeth Cunningham, ""not quite fifteen,"" is wrestling with the recent cancer death of ""golden"" sister Ashleigh: relieved to have Ashleigh gone, dismayed to be the one left, resentful at destruction of the family balance and at her parents' new closeness. Athletic Ashleigh and their tennis-playing mother had been a pair; scholarly JoBeth and her archaeologist/museum director father had been ""kindred spirits."" But the ancient stone pony figurine, whose cuneiform script she's hoped to decipher, is not sufficient solace now. A reluctant, discomfitting visit to a psychiatrist sets her to taking herself in hand--relinquishing the past, discovering (in those weary words) ""if there was another JoBeth Cunningham out there somewhere."" She goes to see blue-ribbon rider Ashleigh's horse--and, at stableboy Luke's invitation, starts learning to ride; she falls in love with poor, orphaned, unschooled Luke--and, after first panicking (Ashleigh again!), endures his departure for the correctional institution from which he ran away. (That will be fixed, though, before the end.) She wins public recognition for her riding, then decides: ""I don't have to try to be like Ashleigh anymore. Or my father. Or anybody else. I don't have to win blue ribbons or worry about A's or decode script that's carved on a stone horse, either."" She even discovers that Ashleigh kind of liked ancient stuff too, but gave way to JoBeth; so, ""They hadn't been so different after all."" Indeed, Ashleigh's name for her horse, Riono, was an anagram of the word JoBeth expected the cuneiform on the stone pony to spell, Orion. Though individual scenes are handled with finesse, the whole is fictive in the extreme.