Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde


  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (December 9, 2014)

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of the heartbreak and healing power of family. New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry. Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.



The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.

I don't often quote a line from the information provided about the book I am reviewing at the time, but this just seemed so apropos.  

The only thing I really remember about the 'average American family' that I learned about in grade school was that there were 2.4 children.  So I searched for 'the average American family' and took a look at the first page of image results.  Discounting the images thrown in to skew the results (the Addams Family - both cartooned and from the movies), by far the vast majority include one man, one woman and (these days) '.9 children'.  And a majority of the shots were of white families.

Despite the arguments going on these days in religious circles as to the 'proper legal constitution' (my words) of a marriage and a family, most people will not belabor the point that circumstances can bring groups of people with no outward indicators in common close together.

From my own experience, I worked with a community of adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities for four years.  I felt as if they were another 'family' for me.  I even called them my 'second family'.  They are certainly the only group of people, other than my biological family, for whom I would put myself in harm's way without question.

Jackie and Paula are two women who are married.  They have adopted one young boy, and fostered other children, including at this time, a young man who was taken from his bio-mom when she was erroneously arrested on a drug charge, and a young woman (Star) who seems to be a very angry person.

Their across-the-road neighbor does not approve of their lifestyle.  But Clementine has issues of her own.  Her only child hung herself in the barn (which Clementine has been unable to enter since) some years ago, and the daughter's horse, survives on minimal care in an outdoor corral.

 Star seems to have a kinship with the horse and gets riled up at the lack of care the horse receives.  This kinship gets a burr under Clementine's saddle (sorry, couldn't resist) and the scene is set for even more conflict.

Ms. Hyde's book is extremely well-written and eminently readable.  A real page-turner, there is enough conflict to keep the story moving at a gallop.  There is also enough introspection and 'inner conflict' to help people realize that although composition may differ from family to family, the issues remain the same.  The Language of Hoofbeats made me smile - inside and out.



Catherine Ryan Hyde is the bestselling author of twenty-four novels, including the 1999 smash hit Pay It Forward,which has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and was made into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment. In addition to her novels, Hyde is the author of more than fifty short stories and is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. During her years as a professional public speaker, she addressed the National Conference on Education, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with President Bill Clinton.


Click the above logo to visit the tour page and see other stops, including other bloggers' reviews and a guest post by the author.

(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hide from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)


  1. I do love a page-turner. Thanks for the great review.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the review, Lynda. Thanks so much for your visit! I know you are one busy lady! :O)

  2. I enjoyed your review. This book sounds like one I would enjoy. There are many kinds of families.

  3. It is so true that every family faces some similar problems - it's always good to remember that there is more that makes us alike than that makes us different.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.