Classic misunderstood-child-and-damaged-horse with a modern twist.
When 16-year-old motherless Evangeline “Evie” Gibbs receives a letter hinting that her mother might actually still be alive, she swipes a difficult horse from her father's racing stable and enters him in a local race, counting on the prize money to help fund a search for her mother. That the horse wins is surprising only because he's been banned from Canada's registered tracks for dangerous behavior. When Evie finds out her father intends to have the horse destroyed, she takes him and runs away—straight into the arms of a loving, horsey great-aunt, who helps her reinstate the horse, No Justice, as an entry in Canada's famed Queen's Plate. Wildly melodramatic, Evie's third-person story gallops so quickly readers barely notice the choppy writing and logical errors. It's a fun read, and Peterson gets her horse details right. Best of all, she doesn't sugarcoat the harsh aspects of Evie's drug-addicted mother's life on the street, nor does she oversimplify the complicated difficulties of poverty and homelessness. Nothing's very deep here, but everything is true.
This outing will thrill Peterson's fans—she has many in Canada—and should win her some new ones. (Fiction. 10-16)