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Mary O’ Hara (editor)
325 Pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks Reprint edition (December 2005)
ISBN: 0060512628
Price: S$27.95 (Available in Borders)






You should have heard this somewhere, where they say that movies are for lazy people who do not like to think too much. Every piece of information on screen is presented visually, and viewers just need to absorb them as they come.

On the other hand, books give readers a chance to paint a picture in their minds with every word and every line they read. At every turn of the page, you’d have a mental picture of what the author is describing, and that is not necessary the same picture painted by another reader.

This novel written by Mary O’ Hara painted picture after picture in our minds, and gosh, they are magnificent portraits of the landscapes in the ranches.

The 325-page book tells the story of a boy who lives on a Wyoming ranch (yes, probably near the one where the Brokeback boys had their share of fun). There, the rebellious boy goes through what every adolescent goes through – growing up. And as every teenager will tell you, it is no easy process. But the boy finds a strong bond with Flicka (Swedish for “girl”), a horse his family rears and the resultant story is given typical warm and fuzzy treatment.

The horse grows up with the boy and goes through some near-death experiences. The comparisons and analogies drawn are appropriately inspiring.

Given where the story takes place; O’ Hara takes every opportunity to describe in detail the ranches’ beautiful sceneries. And she does not stop there. Paragraphs of the horse getting hurt, almost dying and arguments between the boy and his headstrong gather are written in vivid details too.

You’d be imagining how these scenes would play out on the big screen.

True enough, director Michael Mayer saw potential in this novel and has adapted it for the celluloid in a movie starring country singer Tim McGraw and the lovely Alison Lohman. Of course, Mayer would have cast a strong sturdy horse as well.

As the book was first published in 1941, we can’t help but feel that there is nothing too exciting about it. Those looking for dramatic plot twists and turns would definitely not find it in this book. Although easy to read, there is something about the story which makes you feel that you have heard this tale somewhere else before.

Perhaps, the reason why it is so familiar is that it is your growing up story. After all, these encounters are often universal, just that this particular one takes place in a different continent.


“The mile-square Stable Pasture, so called because it was nearest to the stables, was a terrain of startling wildness and beauty. A broad runway of level grass went along the County Road on the south. North and west, it ran into low hills, with a sparse, erratic growth of large twisted pines, and the soil here was a shallow layer over a mountain crag which broke through everywhere in cliffs and sharp stone teeth. Out of the rock-clefts grew pines and junipers. At the base of the cliffs were caverns in which were skeletons and piles of bones, remains of wild animal orgies.”


A simple and uncomplicated tale of growing up which will hopefully inspire today’s younger readers.

Review by John Li



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