Orca Book Publishers

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Adult Fiction
Pages: 160
Themes: strong female lead character, PTSD, animal therapy, romance, survival
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 27/Aug/2019
Fry Reading Level: 2.9
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Julie survived a horrific car accident, but she has no memory of the event or the boyfriend who was with her in the car. He disappeared, and she is diagnosed with PTSD. Her doctor recommends a therapy animal, and Julie chooses to get a horse. Julie's experience with horses is limited, but it's empowering to finally be involved in life again, and her symptoms abate. However, she has a lot to learn, and when the riding coach gives confusing lessons, Julie is thrown off balance, both emotionally and in the saddle. The improvement she'd begun to experience with PTSD symptoms is lost, and her nightmares return.

Julie chooses to move her horse to a stable owned by a cowboy who promises to provide "natural" training. The cowboy is charismatic, and Julie finds him both attractive and intimidating. She soon notices changes in her horse. The mare doesn't respond to her as she once did and appears to be shutting down. When the cowboy demonstrates his methods, Julie watches helplessly as he bullies the horse into submission, roping her, forcing her to the ground and punching her. The brutal scene triggers Julie's memory of her missing boyfriend: he was abusive and caused the car accident when he took his eyes off the road to punch her. Julie finds the courage to stand up to the cowboy and calls on Shirley, the woman who sold her the mare, for help. Both Julie and the mare are traumatized, and Shirley says the mare's spirit is broken. With the return of her memory, Julie's recovery progresses, but true healing doesn't happen until she brings the mare back too.

CM: Canadian Review of Materials
"A must-read novel, challenges its readers to look not only outward without judgement but also inward."

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