Review: The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde

the-language-of-hoofbeats“From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of the heartbreak and healing power of family. New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry. Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.” – Publisher Summary

Paula and Jackie are a young married couple who have recently moved from Napa Valley to a small, rural town in Northern California. They have brought with them their 8-year old adopted son, Quinn, and their two foster children – 13-year-old Armando, and the very troubled 15-year-old Star, who has only been with the family for a few short weeks. Across the street from their new home lives Clementine, a bitter, angry, and lonely older woman who resents this new family: the two women’s lifestyle, the three children, their many pets – the family’s very happiness, it seems.

Comet is a neglected horse living in a small corral that has been nailed shut by Clementine’s former husband. Star forms an instant bond with Comet, one which Clem resents greatly – causing her to order Star to stay away from Comet and off of her property at all times. Star doesn’t listen to Clem’s orders; she continues to visit Comet at night, brushing out the burrs from his coat and the mats from his mane. When things at home become too much for her, Star hits the road – taking Comet with her.

When Star runs away with Comet, the three women are beside themselves: Jackie and Paula with worry over Star’s well-being, and Clementine with an oddly strong reaction to the disappearance of the horse she had been neglecting and seemingly didn’t even care about. Paula and Jackie are put in the position of helping to care for Clem while she is in a sedated condition, and a strange sort of bond begins to form between the family and Clem as they wait together for news of Comet and Star.

The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a character-driven novel that only gets better with time. By far my favorite character was that of Clementine – the pain she endures, the hurdles she overcomes, and the changes she so determinedly begins to make touched me deeply. As usual, Hyde weaves into her story children who are in need – this time in the form of the fostered children, Star and Armando. Hyde also stays true to form by bringing in another timely “controversial” element – a legally married same-sex couple.

The Language of Hoofbeats is a novel that will remind readers that even the most unlovable among us can be loveable, that all people can change if they try hard enough, and that a family can be formed by just about anyone as long as there is enough love and understanding to go around.

The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Read it today!

3.5 stars

Source: Lake Union Publishing {via NetGalley}

 

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