Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff

wild This is a book that really drew me in. Although I wasn’t crazy about the chapters told from the young horse’s perspective, the chapters told from Lidie’s viewpoint just got better and better as the book went on. At the beginning, Lidie is getting ready to leave Jales, Brazil, where she has been living with her aunt and uncle for the past 5 years. Her father and brother moved to the US after her mother died, but they couldn’t take her with them. Even though she is angry at having been left behind, she loves her home, the countryside, her aunt Titia Luisa and even her Uncle Tio, who she has a stormy relationship with, and especially riding the neighbor’s horse wildly through the fields. When she arrives in New York, she is angry to discover that her father and brother expect her to be the same 7-year-old girl they left behind in Brazil (not realizing that she expects them to be the same also). She doesn’t speak much English, and school turns out to be humiliating when she can’t make the teacher understand that she needs to go to the bathroom. She wets her pants and then runs away from school, swearing to herself never to return. It takes a while for things to improve for Lidie, but the world of horses that surrounds her (her father runs a stable and her brother is a budding jockey) draws the family together and when the filly whose voice narrates the alternating chapters comes to the stable, Lidie recognizes a kindred spirit. There are exciting scenes from the racetrack, and it’s nice to see that Lidie loves the old horse her father bought for her to learn to ride on, even as she resents that he thinks she could only ride such a broken-down old horse. Review by Stacy Church

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