Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about e-book readers, citing my love for used books as the number one reason that I didn’t want such a reader. The God of Animals is a perfect example of why I love used books. I wouldn’t have picked up this book on my own – I had never heard of it, and horses, like the one on its cover, aren’t among my favorite animals – but I came across this book in a book exchange at a library in Honduras, and it was the only English language book that wasn’t a thick genre paperback or non-fiction. (I traded a rather embarrassing crime thriller and some coins for it.) I intended to read it on that same trip, but I got side-tracked, and then I brought it home and put it on my bookshelf.
I came across it again recently, and I can’t believe that I let it sit unread on my bookshelf for so long! The story centers around Alice, whose family raises and trains horses. Alice’s dad is the centerstone of their family: her mother has severe and untreated depression, and her superstar older sister dropped out of high school and ran away with a rodeo cowboy six months before the opening of the book. Alice is a hard worker, helping her dad with the horses and worrying about their ever growing money problems, but she’s also struggling to figure out who she is. She struggles even more when two wealthy females are introduced to her life: first Sheila, who is learning to ride at their barn, and then Patty Jo, who is boarding her horse there.
Aryn Kyle paints such a picture that I had no trouble envisioning their barn, and, even though I’m not particularly familiar with the desert myself, I could feel the heat of the long drought. Even the parts that I thought I wouldn’t like – the parts that deal with the day-to-day chores around the barn and with the horses – I found fascinating. I am a big fan of this book.