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Monday 28 November 2011

When Horses Had Wings by Diana Estill

Girl and boy have the wrong sort of 'fumble' in his car
Girl is pregnant at 16
Girl marries boy
Boy is a violent and abusive – mentally and physically
Girl tries hard to leave boy with young son……

That’s just about the gist of this book:  a very, very good book, set in the 1970s.  I was captivated from the start.  Narrated by Renee, the above-mentioned hapless young girl, an air of melancholy exudes her story.  Never, however, do you feel pathetically sorry for her.  There is always an element of admiration for the way she accepts her lot – at first – but then gathers courage and determination to change her life and rid herself of her manacles.

There are obstacles aplenty in the shape of a slightly less than supportive family, her own self-deprecation inflated by the constant verbal and physical abuse and putdowns from Kenny her husband - the garbage-collecting piece of….well, garbage actually, his self-righteous, my-son-is-unworthy-of-you mother and Renee’s overriding fear of Kenny’s violent temper.

If ever there was dynamic character development, Renee’s takes the crown.  From a demoralised, down-trodden, unconfident teenage mother, she desperately searches for acceptance, love, education and independence, not just for her own sanity, self-preservation and better future but for her son too.  Knockbacks are more than just a few but even the most destructive bulldozer of knockbacks can’t render her senseless – just ever more patient and determined.

I couldn’t get enough of Renee – her spunk, grit and resolution grab your soul and though Kenny is one of those characters you want to yank from the pages and slap, the author – this very talented author - manages to make you hold your hand back when you realise this misguided, sadly ignorant young man acted in the only way he knew how.

Superbly written, the characters are colourful, comical and more importantly, believable, and the wonderful rural Texas dialect that peppers the dialogue is powerfully enriching.


I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it.

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