My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jeannette Walls has written a fascinating "true life novel" about her iconoclastic grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Born in 1901 Lily grew up in West Texas on a struggling horse ranch. She learned how to break horses as a youngster and by her "tween" years, she was running the ranch. Lily was sent to Catholic boarding school at 13, but was soon pulled out against her will, because her father used her tuition money to invest in Great Danes. The investment failed. In order to earn money for her family, Lily set out at 15 to teach school in a remote Arizona school 500 miles away. To get there, she traveled by herself, on her pony. She loved teaching and was successful, for a while. Eventually Lily struck out for the big city - Chicago, where she met and married her first husband. Later she and her second husband are hired to run a huge Arizona ranch. Lily never shied away from new technology: she learned to drive a car and fly a plane in an age where women rarely did anything but teach, nurse, or type. She sold illegal alcohol, played a mean game of poker, taught school, and lived life with gusto. Jeannette Walls made her grandmother come alive, and I couldn't put this book down. I need to find a previous novel, The Glass Castle that Walls wrote about her mother.
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