Sometimes I hate finishing a book, wanting it instead to linger for longer, never end because it is so wonderful. This was one of those cases. Alyson Hagy is one of my favorite authors. I have loved everything that I have read of hers, especially her latest book Boleto: a novel.
Hagy’s writing is as sparse yet captivating as the settings of her tales and this novel is continued proof. Her sentences are typically short and simple but elegant with just enough description to highlight the scene. It is fitting for the male narrator who lives in Wyoming with his parents and trains horses.
He could always recall the particular stink of his mother’s lilac blossoms when they thawed out in the spring. He could practically write lyrics to the music field mice made in his bedroom walls, or the midnight bawling of cows and calves. These were the truths that were fixed inside him. They hung like a well-used tools on the workshop wall.
This is a story about trying to figure out who you are and what is important in life. It centers around 23-year-old Will and his new filly Ticket, his own horse bought with his saved money. He has a close relationship with her, confiding in her. This horse and human bond drives most of the story, with the reader knowing Will as genuinely as Ticket does.
The novel itself is broken up into three parts. Each one contains a different section in Will’s story: his life with his parents, his summer at the Black Bell Ranch, and his short stint at the ranch Estancia Flora in California. He is a character who strives to do everything on his own while leading a good and honest life. However when he gets to California he begins to realize that the world in which he believes he lives in isn’t always as good and trustworthy as he wants it to be. With the serious tone of the novel and the three parts, the novel seems like a three act play and borders on being the tragedy. His loses turn him into the man that he hoped the new start and dreams of success in California would allow him to achieve.
Recommended?: Yes. If you love horses or the beauty of the West, you will enjoy this novel. If you like good stories about characters who remain true to themselves and their beliefs and honesty, then you will love Will Testerman and his story. Plus if you haven’t read Alyson Hagy, this is an excellent book to introduce her as a writer. And if you have read her before, then you need to shortlist this book and read it soon.