The Line Tender meets The Secret Horses of Briar Hill in this hopeful, heartfelt story about one girl’s search for legendary horses and her quest to piece her family back together.
Twelve-year-old Claire Barton doesn’t like the “flutter feeling” that fills her chest when she worries about the future, but she knows what she loves: the land that’s been in her family for three generations; her best friend Maya; her family’s horses, Sunny and Sam; and her older brother Andy. That’s why, with Andy recently sent to rehab after a DUI, and her parents planning to sell the horses, Claire’s world feels like it might flutter to pieces.
When Claire learns about equine therapy, she imagines a less lonely future that keeps her family together, brother and horses included. But, when she finds mysterious wild horses in the woods behind her house, she realizes she has a bitmore company than she bargained for. With this new secret-and a little bit of luck-Claire will discover the beauty of change, the power of family, and the strength within herself.
I did not expect to love this book as much as I did, but it thoroughly hit me in the feels. I really enjoyed Claire as a character as she was navigating through dealing with her brother being in rehab for his addiction to pain pills, dealing with anxiety and in general figuring out who she was independently from her brother (or anyone else). I was really in love with how the feeling of anxiety was described throughout the book, Claire likening it to feeling like birds fluttering around her and inside her – though it wasn’t immediately called anxiety, I knew exactly what that feeling was.
I also really enjoyed Claire’s journey to discovering what she was seeing when she went into the forest and the unwinding mystery that occurred. Claire was really on a journey to find herself and figure out who she wanted to be – as well as come to terms with the truths surrounding her brother’s addiction.
I would definitely say there are trigger warnings for anxiety and addiction (and what happens to the loved ones of addicts). I won’t lie, I lost my older brother due to a drug related death – so there were parts of this story that hit me between the eyes, especially when Claire was inside her own thoughts, Baughman definitely rings true with the internal conflicts she gave Claire and her family as they tried to navigate their new normal. All in all I absolutely loved this book and Claire’s overall journey.
I also created a playlist of songs that spoke to me regarding some of the feelings in the book, you can access it on Spotify, but I’ve also included the list of songs below.
- Wild Horses by The Sundays
- GET UP by Shinedown
- Waving Through a Window (Dear Evan Hansen)
- Second Change by Shinedown
- Lithium by Evanescence
- Serenade by Jim Brickman
Sarah R. Baughman is an author whose debut middle grade novel, THE LIGHT IN THE LAKE, is forthcoming from Little, Brown Books For Young Readers in 2019. A former middle and high school English teacher currently working as an educational consultant, Sarah graduated from Grinnell College and the University of Michigan, where she studied English, German, and Education. Sarah is represented by Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, running, or getting outdoors with her family.
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