Half Broke Horses Book Summary - Half Broke Horses Book explained in key points

Half Broke Horses summary

Brief summary

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls is a captivating memoir that tells the story of the author's fearless and resilient grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Set in the American Southwest, it is a tale of courage, adventure, and determination.

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    Half Broke Horses
    Summary of key ideas

    Life of a Remarkable Woman

    In Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, we are introduced to Lily Casey Smith, a woman who lived a life that was anything but ordinary. The story begins with Lily's childhood in the early 1900s on a ranch in Texas. Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, she is a spirited and determined young girl, who learns to ride horses and drive cars at a young age.

    Lily's life takes a turn when she is sent to a boarding school in Chicago. She excels academically and becomes a teacher, but her heart remains in the West. She returns to the ranch, marries, and starts a family. However, her husband's drinking problem and the harsh realities of ranch life test her resilience.

    Adventures and Challenges

    As the years pass, Lily's life is marked by a series of adventures and challenges. She becomes a pilot, flies over the Grand Canyon, and even survives a near-fatal plane crash. She also faces personal tragedies, including the loss of her baby and her husband. Despite these hardships, Lily remains fiercely independent and determined to provide for her family.

    After her husband's death, Lily takes on the daunting task of managing a remote ranch in Arizona. She faces numerous obstacles, from droughts to unruly livestock, but she never gives up. Her unconventional methods and unyielding spirit earn her the respect of her peers and the admiration of her children.

    Lessons and Legacy

    Throughout Half Broke Horses, Lily imparts valuable life lessons to her children, including the importance of hard work, self-reliance, and resilience. She teaches them to embrace challenges and never back down from adversity. Her unorthodox approach to life and her refusal to conform to societal norms make her a truly remarkable woman.

    In the latter part of her life, Lily moves to a city, a stark contrast to her rural upbringing. She continues to live life on her own terms, never losing her adventurous spirit. As she grows older, she reflects on her life, acknowledging the hardships but also cherishing the moments of joy and triumph.


    In conclusion, Half Broke Horses is a captivating and inspiring account of a woman who defied the odds and lived life on her own terms. Lily Casey Smith's story is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the indomitable human spirit. Through her granddaughter Jeannette Walls's vivid storytelling, Lily's legacy lives on, inspiring readers to embrace life's challenges with courage and grace.

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    What is Half Broke Horses about?

    Half Broke Horses (2009) is a memoir by Jeannette Walls, inspired by the life of her grandmother Lily Casey Smith. It tells the story of a resilient and independent woman who grew up in the American Southwest in the early 20th century. Filled with humor, adventure, and determination, the book offers a glimpse into a bygone era and celebrates the indomitable spirit of a remarkable individual.

    Half Broke Horses Review

    Half Broke Horses (2009) by Jeannette Walls is a captivating memoir that takes readers on an extraordinary journey through the life of Walls' grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Unforgettable protagonist: Lily Casey Smith's resilience, determination, and larger-than-life personality make her a truly compelling character.
    • Wild frontier setting: Set against the backdrop of the early 20th-century Southwest, the book immerses readers in a rugged and untamed world.
    • Inspirational storytelling: Through Lily's adventures and trials, Walls delivers uplifting messages of perseverance and triumph, ensuring that the book is anything but boring.

    Who should read Half Broke Horses?

    • Readers who enjoy compelling, true stories of strong, independent women
    • Those interested in the history of the American West and the resilience of its inhabitants
    • Individuals who appreciate engaging, well-written memoirs with a unique narrative voice

    About the Author

    Jeannette Walls is an American author and journalist. She is best known for her memoir, The Glass Castle, which recounts her unconventional and challenging childhood. Walls' writing is characterized by its raw honesty and powerful storytelling. In addition to The Glass Castle, she has also written Half Broke Horses, a novel based on the life of her grandmother, and The Silver Star, a work of fiction inspired by her own experiences. Walls' books have received critical acclaim and have resonated with readers around the world.

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    Half Broke Horses FAQs 

    What is the main message of Half Broke Horses?

    The main message of Half Broke Horses is resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

    How long does it take to read Half Broke Horses?

    The reading time for Half Broke Horses varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Half Broke Horses a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Half Broke Horses is worth reading for its inspiring story of a strong-willed woman's life journey.

    Who is the author of Half Broke Horses?

    Jeannette Walls is the author of Half Broke Horses.

    What to read after Half Broke Horses?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Half Broke Horses, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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