When her older sister runs away to marry a rodeo cowboy, Alice Winston is left to bear the brunt of her family's troubles-a depressed, bed-ridden mother, a reticent, overworked father, and a rundown horse ranch. Faced with the hottest summer in fifteen years and a pile of bills, the Winstons are forced to board the pampered horses of rich neighbors, and Alice must confront the power and security that class and wealth provide. As the summer unfolds, her family and their well-being become intertwined with the lives of their clients, her father pins his hopes on a gorgeous but unrideable horse, and Alice begins a dangerous friendship. Drawn into an adult world of secrets, hard truths, and even harder consequences, Alice experiences her first kiss, her first beer, and her first infatuation. But when the rain comes and brings the summer to an end, Alice's choices lead to a devastating betrayal and a shocking, violent series of events that will forever change her family's world.
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(222mm x 140mm x 27mm)
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Growing pains and the loss of innocence on a desert ranch.Kyle's debut tracks the complicated, often punitive business of love from the preternaturally mature perspective of 12-year-old Alice Winston, whose father, Jody, knows more about horses than he does about running a successful business. After Alice's older sister Nona-a brilliant rider and useful advertisement for the ranch-runs off to marry a cowboy, Jody is reduced to stabling boarders (the fine horses of bored, rich women) and trying to teach untalented but wealthy Sheila Altman to win at horse shows. Alice's mother Marian is a bed-ridden depressive; Alice herself is preoccupied by the drowning of her schoolmate Polly Cain, who was in the habit of making phone calls to her English teacher, Mr. Delmar. Alice, lonely as well as sensitive to her father's financial problems and her mother's emotional ones, starts to make secret calls to Delmar herself. Kyle delivers the story in graceful, translucent prose, while the mood of the book is overwhelmingly bleak and steadily focused on the gathering storm. Fearful expectations are eventually realized as a sequence of disasters unfolds, starting with a horrific riding accident that leaves Jody's possible lover Patty Jo badly damaged. Next, Delmar leaves and Alice, in distress, reveals to Sheila her father's infidelities. Patty Jo's accident precipitates the ranch's ruin and a family argument brings about further cruelty, this time leading to the agonizing destruction of a horse. Although an unlikely gift leaves Alice with enough money to go to college, and Kyle wraps up by offering some perspective, it's not exactly a happy ending.A talented writer's lyrical but oppressive first work. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Aryn Kyle
Aryn Kyle graduated from the University of Montana writing program. Her work has been featured in The Georgia Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best American Voices 2005, and Ploughshares. Born in Illinois, Kyle spent most of her childhood in Grand Junction, Colorado, and now lives in Missoula, Montana.