Horse by Talley English


Talley English

Horse is a piercing story about how families hold together and fall apart, loss and grief, friendship, the blunt cruelty of chance, and forgiveness.


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The haunting debut of a plainspoken, utterly original new voice: a novel about a girl on the cusp of her teenage years, who is growing up faster than she ever hoped she would.

When Teagan's father abruptly abandons his family and his farm, Teagan finds herself wading through the wreckage of what was once an idyllic life, searching for something--or someone--to hold on to. What she finds is Ian, short for Obsidian: the magnificent but dangerously headstrong horse her father left behind. But even as she grows close to Ian, patiently training him, trying to overcome her fear of him, Teagan is learning that life and love are fragile. With an unflinching eye and remarkable restraint, Talley English tells a piercing story about how families hold together and fall apart; about loss and grief; about friendship; about the blunt cruelty of chance; and, finally, about forgiveness.

Advance Galley Reviews

Many stories have been written about grief, the impact of divorce/loss on children, the bond between a child and an animal, and the healing power of animals. Horse by Talley English brings all these elements together, promising a powerful and emotional story. However, for me, the emotional impact of the story does not come. I think that is primarily for two reasons - one about the plot and the other about the structure and language. The overall impact is unfortunately of a melancholy but vague story. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

Unfortunately, life's demands interfered with my meeting the deadline to read "Horse" by Talley English, and I was only able to complete 10-20 pages. The little I read, however, was enough to motivate me to read the entire novel so as to get to know fully its main character, Teagan. Thank you, Penguin First to Read, for the ARC introducing me to Talley English and her novel, "Horse."

This book was very well-written, and the character development was very good. However, the story itself was very slowly drawn out; for me, this was not an issue, as I felt like all of the nuances of the story were going to pique at the end. I could see others getting very discouraged, however, and putting this book down. I really did enjoy this story; it was simple, yet sad, understated, yet eloquent.

Thank you for the opportunity to read the advanced copy of Horse. It was beautifully written, and I knew from the info before reading that it was going to be a different kind of story that I had not read before. Overall it was okay, it was a unique coming of age story and you can see why the story was called Horse. Overall, great characters, but it wasn't my cup of tea. That doesn't mean that someone won't appreciate it more; it's just not a story I completely gravitated towards, but nonetheless it was worth the read.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Horse by Talley English. However I completely ran out of time and didn’t have a chance to read this book. I was really looking forward to reading this book but life just got in the way.

I received an advanced copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. I liked this book at first but the changing narratives started to get confusing. I kept with it and did enjoy the story. I don't have a connection with horses but people that do will probably love this book.

Switching between a third-person narrative as an outsider looking in, and a first-person narrative inside Teagan's head, the reader gets a well-rounded insight into her world - of horses, of family and friends, of love and loss. I wasn't sure of the changing perspectives at first, but came to appreciate this use as a vehicle to differentiate past and present. Though I don't know much about horses and riding, I felt the language was easily understood given the context provided. The story itself, while slow and/or choppy at times, tugged at my heartstrings with its honest depiction of a family falling apart and the emotional and mental consequences of such.

English winds together a story of youth, adulthood, but most importantly, family. A beautiful portrait is painted by English in a unique use of perspective. Her use of switching between present and past is unique, but hard to catch at first. Great detail is given to the elements of the horse world, making it accessible for all readers. Readers don’t need to have an interest in horses to relate to Teagan or her story.

I liked the initial premise of this book and wanted to be drawn to the character more. The story seemed to unravel around page 160 and I could not see spending the time on read ing something that lacked substance. Thanks for the ARC, First To Read.

I wanted to love this book. I grew up in Montana and loved the writing about horses and farm life, but the story seemed kind of choppy to me and disconnected. It took me a while to realize the author was flipping back and forth on the time line and I don't know that I really connected with the characters. It was just an okay read, but I do think that horse lovers would enjoy it!

I have mixed feelings about this book. The story revolves around Teagan French and her horse Ian, whom she received when her father left his family for another woman. Reagan's difficulty in handling this situation and her struggles at a boarding school a!ake up a good section of the story, but that is not all. The chapters in the book are mostly short and skip around from Teagan the adult woman to Teagan the teenager and back. As a result, I never felt like I truly knew Teagan or her family members, except for her father because it was clear she didn't like what he did. The best writing in the book was about the horses, especially Ian. The work that goes into tacking, dressing and riding horses was explained well. It is helpful if the reader knows about horses to understand these passages but even if a reader knows nothing about these subjects, like me, they are written in language that is easy to understand. Overall, I give this book a passing grade for the knowledge of horses, but as a story I found it at best an okay read. I wish to thank First to Read for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Horse lovers will adore this book. Poetry lovers will swoon over the writing style. Everyone will be haunted by the sad story that unfolds. I breezed through this book, and enjoyed it for the most part. I'm not a horse person, and a LOT of this is a love story between a girl and her horse. But I can relate, being a dog lover, animals just have an effect on us that people just do not. I can imagine though that if you have ridden or work around horses, that this story will resonate with you deeply. Teagan lives on a farm with her wonderful, loving mom and dad, and brother Charlie. They have several dogs, and horses they ride together, and enjoy fun family banter at dinner until one day everything just shifts. Her dad has left and Teagan has no idea why as her mom is incredibly tight-lipped on the whole situation. Teagan struggles immensely, as we follow her out trail riding with her horse, away on her own to an all girls school, to riding events, on outings with her hurt mother, jaunts with friends, and strange awkward meetings with her estranged father. The prose here is written so similar to poetry and has a light flowy feeling to it, very short random paragraphs and chapters, sort of jump all over the place, snippets, tiny stories, flashbacks, these transitions happen frequently - some chapters only a few sentences. I found it a bit hard to keep track, but after some time, didn't worry about keeping track and just followed the story. It's not a book for those who require a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. It's much more poetic than that - as Talley English IS a poet, so it makes sense! I didn't connect to the horse as much as some would, BUT the respect I have now for riders and horses is definitely elevated more than it was. I never thought about the subtle shifts and placements of body language and limbs to "talk" to the horse, and I knew horses were incredibly smart, but I admired the descriptions of riding technique that confirmed just how astute they really are. In the end, the book takes a shocking sad turn in several ways. I was definitely stunned for a minute there! Horse surprised me, in that I enjoyed the writing, but I honestly thought I would dislike the horse stuff (and there was a LOT of it - more than the synopsis lets on) and although the story was a little slow in some parts, it held my interest and I wanted to take the time to finish it.

A Girl Finds Comfort from Her Disintegrating Family in Her Horse Talley loves her life on her family’s horse farm. She has wonderful experiences, finding a gosling, taking care of her beloved horse. Then it all changes. Her father leaves, and she’s left with her mother and older brother. On top of that, Talley’s horse has to be put down. Talley has problems dealing with her new world and goes off to a pricey girls school. Her mother sends Ian, the horse her father left behind, for her to work with. He’s wild, but Talley perseveres and tries to train him. To make matters more confusing for Talley, her father visits her at school, taking her out to lunch. This precipitates her going into therapy. From there, her life begins to improve as does her ability to deal with Ian, even to deciding to enter a horse show. I loved the idea of the book. I grew up around horses and raised them as an adult. However, the book didn’t live up to it’s promise. I enjoyed the chapters describing life on the farm and found them realistic. However, as the book progresses, the author breaks the narrative into Talley as a child and as an adult. She uses tense to distinguish the sections, but sometimes it was confusing when the transitions were very short. The writing was slow and stilted. I felt the author was trying for a poetic effect that didn’t quite come off. Unless you’re an avid horse fan, I can’t recommend this book. I received this book from First to Read for this review.

I received this book from first to read and would give this book a 2.5/5 stars. The book jumps around from time-line and is told from many different perspectives. The writing is beautiful but the story is really hard to keep track of due to its jumping around.

"He was a horse I loved." I received a copy of this ebook from in exchange for an honest review. This book was around 3.5 stars for me. It's an easy book to devour even if you're not a horse person. Following Teagan as she grows up in a fairly dysfunctional environment and getting her naive perspective through metaphors about her horse Obsidian and her absent father this is a complex book that is still somehow straightforward. The narration is a bit choppy at times as we cut back and forth between 1st and 3rd person but we see Teagan trying to navigate a new school and her adolescence in a captivating read. It's an engaging story about a girl trying to find her place in her world.

I only got about 50 pages in before I gave up on this book. The story is told in what seemed to be at times pretty unconnected excerpts throughout Tegan's life. Like many others I found the time jumps jarring and they alienated me from the characters and their stories. The scenes feel as if they try very hard to be quiet and finely rendered with detail, to me there seemed to be a lack of true emotion that I could identify with in the characters. The synopsis describes it as a "remarkably restrained" narrative but I found it so restrained I couldn't care about the characters and gave up on it.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book. There were some great parts at the beginning but the story started to drag and I lost interest. Also, it was hard to keep track of when the story was taking place.

This is Teagan’s coming of age story. She bonds with her fathers horse Ian to help her in handling family issues. I find the story as a whole a very good story. However it was slow and tedious at times. It also seemed choppy and unconnected in spots. Like when we we would see different periods of her life in the same chapter. The ending was heartbreaking.

Hmm. As a "horse person," it's easy to tell that English is a kindred spirit. The book follows Teagan's journey through the split of her family as she finds solace in her father's horse, Ian. The moments surrounding Ian and Teagan's relationship are gorgeously done--I know others might find the detail tedious, but I loved it. But it's the surrounding set pieces that don't ring as poignantly. In that way, the book reads inconsistently in moments, even as there's an authenticity of emotion in every page. I'm also a bit confused by the weird time shift at the end of the novel; it seems unnecessary, even as it doesn't really affect the readability of the book. I think horse people would find this a really compelling read, even though I don't think others might like it as much.

What a book! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. At the beginning it was hard for me to get used to the writing style (its written more as a diary or a poem) but once i got it, it just started flowing. I will not give any spoilers, but its a wonderful story about young girl coming of age and learning to deal with life and family issues by bonding with a horse.

I love horses and bonding stories, but for some reason, this one felt a little bit slow and not well connected at certain points. But still a nice story.

Took a while to get into this book and by the time I felt I was getting invested in the story and the characters it kind of just sputtered out.

I tried, I really tried to get into this book -- but I just couldn't. It was confusing form the very beginning for me, the short chapters made it feel really choppy & the characters seemed unemotional and unconnected with each other. I have to admit, I didn't even finish it.

This is a good story, especially if you like horses. For me, there was too much fluff. I don’t really need two pages dedicated to the appearance of a dorm room. Also, the jumping around to different periods in the same chapter was confusing. Not a bad debut novel

The short unemotional sentences made it hard to connect with either the story or the characters. I did enjoy hearing the details of saddling up the horse and other horse related moments. The shifting around from childhood to adulthood didn't really seem to serve a purpose. I didn't find this to be a satisfying book.

Teagan is a girl who is learning to cope with her parent's divorce. At the center of her life was her horse, but then she had to put him down. Not sure of her place in the world and needing a change, she tries going to a private school. Her mother has sent along her father's horse Ian for her to use at school, and he's a bit of a wildcard. While she makes friends, emotionally she starts to spiral. Her father starts visiting her at school and it's awkward. Finally getting into therapy and heading back home, things start getting better for her and Ian. The last 3/4's of the book, the chapters would touch on Teagan grown up and then go back to the time in which she was learning to cope with her parent's divorce. It was a bit bizarre because I didn't feel like the grown-up Teagan was really needed. English did a great job with everything horse related. From the saddle down to the bit, the competitions, and grooming, it was thoroughly covered. But sometimes it just seemed a bit too much explanation, especially when Teagan was doing the dressage test. Horse was okay but not a book that stuck out.

I enjoyed the story but also thought it was choppy and uneven. The ending was confusing too.

I liked this book for the most part, it is an engrossing story of a teen going through the sudden breaking up of her family. Therapy for her is bonding with her father's horse, Ian, now her own. Some of the focus is on caring for her horse in detail and interacting with her family. Her father leaves for another woman throwing the family dynamic off. Teagan reels from hurt and feeling left out. Parts are confusing and seem out of focus, or an effect since Teagan is depressed and disconnected, at times exhibiting odd behavior. The end is simply heartbreaking. Recommend.


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