Sunday, April 14, 2019

Lizzie Flying Solo

Stevenson, Nanci Turner. Lizzie Flying Solo
April 16th 2019 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

When Lizzie's father is arrested for embezzling from his company, she and her mother are not able to keep their farmhouse. They move to a nearby town where people won't know them, and end up staying in the Good Hope family shelter. Lizzie finds it stressful and challenging to keep people from finding out about her past, and takes great comfort in walking through the woods near the shelter and watching people riding in the fields of the stables there. When her mother gets a job, Lizzie says that she will volunteer at the library, but also uses this as cover to spend time at the stables. The staff their are friendly and understanding, and give her an application to work in the stables in exchange for lessons. When school starts, she meets Bryce, who has just moved from the west to live with his father after his parents' divorce. Bryce has his own horse, and is with his father because he was promised riding lessons, but his well-to-do father doesn't really approve of Bryce's desire to learn dressage instead of Western riding. Lizzie understands having difficulty with a parent, since her father does not contact her and her mother when he is released on bail, which was paid for by another woman. Lizzie falls in love with Fire, a new horse that is being trained, and decides to save up the $1,000 needed to buy him. She babysits, cleans tack, enters contests, and manages to save up enough to purchase the horse, which the caring staff members at the stable warn her will probably not happen. Bryce has some issues in his life, but they manage to work out in the same way that Lizzie's do-- slowly, and not always the way that they imagine to be best.
Strengths: The family's reasons for moving to the shelter are well explained, but I also liked the mother's explanation (as well as the author's notes at the back) that everyone was there because they hit a rough patch of some sort. We are seeing more middle grade literature featuring homeless and home insecure families, but since the stories are all different, we can always use more. Bauer's Almost Home, Sarno's Just Under the Clouds, Nielsen's No Fixed Address, Messner's The Exact Location of Home, Balliet's Hold Fast, and the upcoming Cameron's Maybe a Mermaid, Knowle's Where the Heart Is, Pyron's Stay and Armtrong's Roam are all good depictions of different types of families in transition.
Weaknesses: The cover and title are  very reminiscent of 1980-90s fiction, but since my equestrian readers often rely on books from that era, they won't be bothered.
What I really think: I liked this much better than this author's Swing Sideways or Georgia Rules. It's far more hopeful, and having much of the action take place at a stables is brilliant. I need about five new horse books every year to keep up with periodic readers who will read nothing but horse books!

Yep, this is the cover I kept thinking about. Mills' Lizzie at Last. (2000)

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