A few months ago we posted a listicle about our most re-readable books. I wish I would have put Horse Thief on the list.
Written by Robert Newton Peck in 2002, this book tells the story of Tullis Yoder, a 17-year-old orphan with a passion for horses who wants nothing more than to be a bull riding champion. He is also a member of the Big Bubb Stampede, a rough horse show run by Mr. Judah St. Jude. After being given the chance to live out his dream and ride a bull, Tullis jumps on the opportunity, trying to get his eight seconds atop a terror named Gutbuster. Falling seconds short, Tullis is injured. Shortly thereafter, Big Bubb, America’s Largest Cowboy and the star of Mr. St. Jude’s show, has an accident as well causing the entire show to fold.
Tullis’ life changes in ways he could never have imagined, from now learning how to live with only half a hand after his accident, to finding out that the only ones he has to call family, the precious rodeo horses he has been caring for, are soon to be sold and slaughtered. Knowing with all his heart he can’t let that happen, he sets off to find help stealing them and bringing them to a safe place for them to live out the rest of their lives. In the process, Tullis too finds a place where he belongs.
While I read all kinds of stories, I find I’m partial to books told through multi-perspectives, which Peck has done with the Horse Thief. There’s just something neat about a story that is bigger than one person’s voice alone and seeing the world through more than a single set of eyes. What I find unique about the Horse Thief though is that while it is told from many different perspectives, Tullis is the only character told in first-person. Every other character, while still given their own chapters every so often, is told third-person.
Now, while I do like multi-perspective stories, something I have found with the Horse Thief is that it can be a challenge to keep up with in the car or with a lot of commotion around. There are several characters in the Horse Thief and sometimes it can be confusing to remember whose goal is what.
Another challenge I found with the book is that I have a habit of reading over a larger period of time, taking breaks when life gets busy and picking it up to keep reading when I find time to. A book like this can be a little confusing to come back to. I found myself going, okay who is this character again? It’s probably one best read straight through over a shorter period of time than sporadically like I did.
Something else that I like about this book is that it takes place in Florida in 1939. Robert Newton Peck writes in a way that you can really read it with a southern accent without it being forced or taking very much energy. It just happens.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Tullis Yoder and if you love stories with happy endings, I think you will too.
Until next time,