“The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America” by Elizabeth Letts

Genre: NonfictionThe Ride of Her Life
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: June 1, 2021

If I was the author’s editor, I would have suggested a name change.  The current title makes me think of a young woman running off on a motorcycle with her boyfriend rather than this heartwarming, true story, of an amazing 63-year-old woman, Annie Wilkins, who in the 1950s crosses the country by horseback.  Annie was bold, quirky, and made up of true grit. What makes her story even more fascinating is that Wilkins had lived in poverty on the family farm, with no electricity or running water and certainly not a television. Yet, through word of mouth, each state was keeping an eye out for her. She became a folklore legend. She was even on Art Linkletter’s popular TV show “People Are Funny.”  Letts does a superb job in making nonfiction read like fiction.  The tale is never dull.

The tale is also nostalgic. Most chapters touch on the cultural history of mid-20th-century America and the postwar prosperity that transformed the U.S. You will read about; the hurrying to build interstate highways for the seven-million-dollar cars that were produced, the brand new supermarkets, McDonald’s, which forever changed how families eat when they travel. In addition, all of America fell in love with, “I Love Lucy.” Most importantly there is an emphasis on Americans helping strangers. Not sure if we could say that today.  The book also relives political points such as, Senator Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for communists in the US, and Brown v. Board of Education with the beginnings of the civil rights movements. And, much more.  Yes, Annie is endearing.  On her tombstone, she asked it to read “The Last of The Saddle Tramps.” Have to love her wit. If you are not into history but you are a horse lover, this book will still be a great fit for you. There is much written about the bond between animal and human.  But, for this reviewer what I enjoyed most was reading about America in those years. The book never read like a boring history book yet I did relearn much.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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