About the book:
“Two girls: Best friends Hattie and Delores feel that life in their small New Hampshire town is a dead end.
One horse: Old and about to be put down, Speed gets a reprieve when Hattie and Delores decide to save him.
A road trip: Determined to set Speed free, Hattie and Delores drive him west in search of rangeland. But the road takes some unexpected turns as the girls get their own taste of freedom—and as they confront the reasons they left home.”
Our thoughts about our last Book Club Pick, “Blood Wounds” were across the board, but the sweet roadtrip novel “Finding Somewhere” by Joseph Monninger is clearly a solid B/B+ pick. With reviews spanning from A- to B-, we seem to all believe this horse story would make an especially brilliant pick for readers (or let’s face it, girls) who love horses. Many thanks to Random House for providing each of us with a copy to read and review.
“Young” Reader Average: B+
Kierstin graded the book a B:
I found it interesting, but I thought that the plot was kind of slow as it evolves. It might not have flown the way it could have if the events were unrealistic. I know nothing about horses but thought it covered all the aspects that made it so I understood the story.
Lily graded the book an A-:
After the dark intensity of “Blood Wounds” by Susan Beth Pfeffer, I was ready for something a little lighter. I was very pleased when “Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger showed up at my doorstep. The book centers around two best friends, Hattie and Delores. They have stolen a horse the night before he was to be put down and are swiftly traveling westward towards rangeland where they will set him free. Quickly, though the trip becomes less about the horse and more about the two girls, and their reasons for running away.
I was pleasantly surprised by “Finding Somewhere.” I am not a horse person (I like my feet firmly on the ground, thank you very much) but the terminology was simple and self-explanatory. Monninger clearly did his research and easily conveyed how much these girls love Speed (the horse). However, I found the book a little too philosophical, with conversations on the meaning of life and finding purpose in most chapters. It is very hard for me to not degrade this book because it is a “horse book”. Do I know people I who would love this book? Absolutely. In fact, I am handing this book off to my friend Izzy tomorrow.
Wendy graded the book an A-:
I have love horse stories ever since I saw “The Black Stallion” on DVD as a little girl. It’s one of my favorite movies. I don’t ride them, sadly, but I do have a soft spot for books about horses, so I was excited to read read Hattie and Delores’ quest to save Speed, the older horse who was about to be put down before they rescued him. The great thing about the book is that the author makes you care about the girls’ friendship not just their love of the horse. It’s like a road-trip book AND a horse-lover’s book all rolled into one, and that made it extra enjoyable for me. It was a nice break from all the paranormal stuff I’ve been reading; I highly recommend it — especially if, like me, you dreamed of owning your own horse as a girl!
“Adult” Reader Average: B
Cara graded the book a B:
Most girls go through a horse phase, but Hattie and Delores take theirs to a whole new level. Speed is Hattie’s “one” horse. Beloved, he is the one that will be all horses to her ever after. When his owners decide that his time has come, these two unlikely friends make a cross-country trip in search of somewhere to give the dying horse a last taste of freedom.
This book was written from 16 year old Hattie’s point of view, and while the descriptors used were beautiful and evocative (“when the moon is full and woodsmoke lips out of the chimneys”), they just didn’t ring true to the way a girl her age would think. Going along with that, these two girls were unnaturally self-aware for 16 and 18. Dolores apparently suffers from Bipolar Disorder and both she and Hattie are very attuned to her fluctuating moods, so much so that they would work to head off her depressive phases. As a 37 year old woman with familial and personal histories with this disease myself, I can only say that even now it’s really darn hard to see the shifts as they’re happening and almost impossible, barring medication, to do anything about them. I struggle to believe that a 16 year old would be this perceptive.
Finally, I was frustrated with character development, specifically, Hattie’s backstory. Why did she drop out of school and get her GED? Her father is clearly not in the picture, but there is very little in the way of explanation there. The girls had planned a cross-country trip before Speed, so while the horse was the specific impetus for their journey, the idea had already been set in motion before they realized his situation. I don’t need comprehensive exposition, but I would have understood her need to make this trip a lot better if I had some of these details.
As a woman who loved horses as a young girl myself, I liked this book, I empathized with Hattie and Delores and I wanted Speed to have his day in the sun as much as they did, but… I needed a little more.
Diana graded the book a B+
When the family that owns the ranch that Hattie works at decides to put down Speed, an old horse they have, Hattie determines to save Speed. This horse is special to her and she wants to give him a chance to live as a free horse just once before he dies. She enlists the help of her best friend Delores to help her free Speed. Thus begins their road trip from New Hampshire out to the western part of the Unites States in search of a place where Speed can spend what’s left of his life running free. In the course of their road trip they make new friends. Tthe girls also make new discoveries about themselves, their friendship and their lives.
Monninger has not only written an enjoyable story about friendship, but also about the powerful love relationship that people can have with animals. The love that Hattie has for Speed is very real. Animal lovers will truly relate to Hattie’s desires for Speed. Monninger’s descriptions of Hattie and Delores’ different horse rides are especially haunting. All in all, he has written a road trip story about friends who come to terms about issues in their lives and rescue a horse that they love.
Jenn graded the book a B:
I love a good road trip story. I’ve read several this year, but “Finding Somewhere” by Joseph Monninger is definitely something special. In this novel, Hattie and Delores run away from home to rescue an old horse, Speed, who was scheduled to be put down by his owners. But there are other reasons for their journey. Throughout the novel, we get glimpses of Delores’s home life and we begin to see her true motivation for leaving. There’s also a sense that Hattie, our narrator, isn’t quite clear on what she wants to do with her life, and the trip seems to act as a catalyst for her to make some serious decisions about her future.
I really loved the friendship between the two “women going west.” It was clear how much they cared for each other, and their relationship really resonated with me and reminded me of my friendship with my own best friend.
And then there was Speed. I’ll admit that when I was growing up I was an odd girl who preferred aliens and ghosts to horses. So I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I really did enjoy it, and I hoped with all my heart that the girls would get sweet Speed to the rangelands. Overall, I thought it was a really touching and lovely story.
Melanie graded the book a B-:
In the book, “Finding Somewhere,” by Joseph Monninger, Hattie and Delores “kidnap” a horse to rescue it from being mercifully put down. they drive across the country to find a safe pasture for the horse to run wild, to fully come into its “horseness.” in their travels, they learn about themselves and what kind of safe place each of them needs to run “wild” with their ambitions and desires, so that they can truly come into their own as people.
After reading this book, i hope that zoe never decides to leave on her own for a cross-country adventure to find herself. i hope that i can be the one that provides the safe place for her to discover all that the world has to offer her in terms of achieving her dreams and discovering who she is created to be.
I hope that the excitement of discovering what kind of “Zoeness” Zoe will have gives me the ability to open up the gate and let her become all that she can be.
I am not a big horse fan, so this isn’t my favorite book ever. I thought it could be better written, but I can see the attraction for young girls who love horses.