Wonderful review of Horse Sense on the Italian blog il LIBRO che PULSA.
An old farm with lots of horses, goats and chickens; fences with peeling pain, weatherworn troughs overflowing with rainwater and filled with mushy leaves covering the bottom; sparse grass worn away by the repeated trampling of hooves; a car so old that its frame is riddled with holes. This is where Jamie, an eleven year old boy, spends his days with his mother and Acorn, a wonderful horse that has always been his playmate. This is the story of a good and sensitive boy ( because you know, usually those who have a special relationship with animals are a bit more sensitive than others), who lives in a riding school that would require some home improvements, but the father, who is a bit of a tyrant, works and spends their little money on his boots rather than anything else.
Jamie resents his father, as he is oppressive and absent at the same time, hardly stands his violent teacher, does not tolerate the code of silence that envelops him, rejects the malice of his peers and can’t come to grips with all this. Why his relationship with Arcorn is so incomprehensible to everyone? Why is it that if he is friends with a horse people wont’ let him around them? Why the only person who understands him is his mother, who nevertheless embarrasses him while she tries to help him?
A story centered on true friendship, the one with a capital F, the pure friendship without a hidden agenda, friendship as a loyal relationship built with patience and mutual understanding. A novel reads easily, flows smoothly and brings us closer to the pre-adolescent world, a universe pinpointed with difficulties and fears, a world where bullying lifts his head, a period where you are not totally in control of your body and the feelings contained in it. But if you’re lucky enough to walk alongside honorable and fair people, far less painful solutions might be put forward for those problems.
Jamie is a pure and innocent kid: he always fights to help the underdog, has a friendly and outgoing character, is good at school without being the teacher’s pet. This is not enough though. He fails to realize that he and his classmates are growing up and, unfortunately, the “mass” doesn’t share his ideals and principles, rather his peers break his basic rules just to show off in front of their friends. Smoking is a step up from the losers, going home in a nice car or teasing a bigger kid with glasses makes you a hero with the girls. But Jamie doesnt’ get it (luckily, IMHO), and doesn’t want to live like that. He’d like to have human friends, but his Acorn comes first, so they will call him HORSEBOY.
A bittersweet novel that sensitive people will relate to. I lived through a similar experience in middle school, but instead of the horse I had a German Shepherd as my best friend ! —Barbara B.