Author: Shelley Peterson
Publication: Dundurn (March 1, 2016)
Description: A teen girl’s quest to find her mother leads her to the big city, and gives her the courage to fulfill her dream of becoming a jockey.
Evangeline “Evie” Gibb lives a seemingly charmed life on a thoroughbred racehorse farm. But in reality, Evie feels alone in the world, cheered only by the affection of a racehorse named No Justice.
She’s always been told that her mother, Angela Parson, is dead. Then, on her sixteenth birthday, a card arrives from her great aunt Mary with the suggestion that Angela might still be alive ― and Evie’s life is turned upside down.
In hopes of winning enough money to leave her hateful father and find her mother, Evie enters the Caledon Horse Race. But something she overhears her father say changes everything, and Evie steals the racehorse in the night and runs away. With a stray dog named Magpie at her side and help from Aunt Mary, Evie unearths long-hidden family secrets, finds unexpected love, and takes the racing world by storm.
My Thoughts: Evie has quite a week going. She is humiliated by her "best friend" on Facebook, throws her phone into a river, receives a birthday card from a great aunt she's never met which indicates that the mother her father told her was dead isn't, steals a horse from her dad and wins a prestigious horse race.
Evie is the oldest daughter of a well-known horse trainer. But her outwardly charming father hides a monster who displays rages that frighten Evie. She never knows how her father will react. He has beaten her pony and killed her little brother's pet rat in his rages. Evie is also verbally abused by her father and step-mother and her step-mother's perfect daughter. The only person who seems to like her at all is her younger half-brother.
I'm surprised that thirteen years of abuse didn't damage her more. But Evie is a kind-hearted girl who has a special understanding with a race horse no one else can deal with. No Justice, called Kazzam by Evie, is an extremely fast horse but has a nasty habit of bucking off his jockey. He's been banned from racing in Ontario. Evie's father has threatened (while Evie was hiding in Kazzam's stall) to have the horse killed for the insurance money.
Evie and Kazzam run away trying to get to Greataunt Mary's place because she really wants to find her mother. She hopes to live with her and finally get away from her father. Spending the night in an abandoned farm, Evie is joined by a dog she calls Magpie. Magpie is also abused by cruel owners.
This story has quite a lot of wish fulfillment going on as a young girl rescues a horse and then rides him to victory in a million dollar race. Along the way there is also a lot about abuse and addiction as Evie learns the mother she longs for isn't the mother she's got. The book was also filled with enough information about horses to satisfy any young horse lover's heart.
I enjoyed the story and found it very readable. In fact, I couldn't put it down and read it in one day.
"What did you say to him?"I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.
Mary put a hand on her shoulder. "That this week you rescued a dog, a horse, and your little brother. That you located me to help you find your sick and presumed-dead mother. That you are a remarkable young lady who deserves a second chance."
Evie was not sure that she could live up to this new image. "I'm glad you're in my corner. Thanks."