Reviews

This review is from the Manitoba Library Association (Feb. 18, 2005)
Reviewed by Denise Moore

Free Horse Walrus Books, Vancouver

Free Horse is the seventh book in the "Mustang Mountain" series. Those who have been reading the series (I've read the first two) will find this a very satisfying addition to the series.

     Meg is a 15-year-old whose visit to Mustang Mountain Ranch has ended, and she is about to return to the city. Thomas, an 18-year-old aboriginal on whom Meg has a crush, is driving her to the airport. Meg, still thrilled with Mustang Mountain and passionate about the horses there, doesn't want to leave.

     Though Free Horse has a quickly moving, dramatic plot, and well crafted dialogue, what really makes the novel is Sharon Siamon's realistic, sympathetic and deep portrayal of Meg. When she and Thomas come across a woman, Ruby, who needs to be taken to the hospital, Meg readily decides they must do it, even though it means Meg will miss her plane and Meg doesn't know how she will be able to afford a later flight.

     The "Mustang Mountain" series takes place in a fairly isolated area, one with some violent storms and floods, unreliable communications, and sometimes impassable roads. The fairly small number of people there must both fend for themselves and, when necessary, help each other out. These requirements include young people. So it is believable when Ruby asks Meg to stay and help. There's cooking and other tasks that need to be done at Ruby's tourist camp. More daunting, someone needs to take care of Ruby's stepson, an impulsive 10-year-old boy, Tyler. With some nervousness, but realizing this gives her a chance to stay and would pay for changing her flights, Meg agrees. As a 15-year-old would, Meg takes quite seriously her responsibility to take care of Tyler. The reader never really gets to know Tyler well, but there are hints about his character. He's bored and, having been allowed to pretty much run wild, acts impulsively and doesn't pay much attention. But he has adopted and cares for a kitten, Scraps. So later, his concern about the horses is believable. Meg, wisely, knows it will take time to bring Tyler's behaviour around. Meg makes some mistakes, of course, but copes well.

     The more dramatic parts of the plot focus around Tyler's brother Brett, 18. Siamon keeps readers in suspense about what Brett is like or what he is doing. Meg is surprised by the hostility between Brett and Thomas, a hostility that neither of them explains. At first, she assumes Thomas isn't giving Brett a chance, but she learns from Tyler that Brett makes racist remarks and that there are hints that Brett and his friends might be catching and hurting wild horses. Brett comes and goes, gets drunk, and is all the more menacing because Siamon keeps readers unsure just how bad he is and just what he might do.

     The plot, part of which involves the fate of the wild horses, does get nicely resolved, but again what makes the novel is Siamon's portrayal of Meg. Meg is generally aware of her various feelings and makes considered choices. Through the events, Meg has come to realize that, though her feelings for Thomas are genuine, she has idealized him. Having successfully risen to the challenge of taking care of Tyler, she also now finds herself thinking of her responsibilities to her own family at home.

     When a book is one of a series, readers obviously like to find the characters and plot devices that have appealed to them previously. However, Siamon is wise enough to realize that doesn't mean characters shouldn't develop. Readers will appreciate Meg's growth as a person. Free Horse is an excellent addition to the series.

Highly Recommended.

Denise Moore reviews children's and teen's books for Hi-Rise, a Toronto, ON, community newspaper.


Here are some e-mails I've received:


From: "GINA A." <@msn.com>

Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 17:33:53 -0600

To: <fanmail@sharonsiamon.com>

Subject: I'm Gina A. and I am a fan.

Hi. I'm Gina A. I just got book #3 on 3-18-03. I haven't read it yet but I know it will be very great!

Horses are my favorite animals. I love animals a lot! I hope I will be able to get book #'s 1,2, and 4 also. I also hope you will continue to write Mustang Mountain book's. At least write about 10 of them and I will try to get all of them. Please e-mail me back. If you do, I might continue to e-mail you a lot.

PLEASE E-MAIL ME BACK


From: ___
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 11:49:03 EST
To: fanmail@sharonsiamon.com
Subject: (Kein Thema)

Dear Sharon!
I'm a German girl and we've got here in Germany a book club which called FuntasieClub. There we got your books "sleepover" and I must say I love them much. Do you know, the books are in Germany in the shops too? I know you got much post and I am a German girl but please answer. Your living fast away fan Judith
.


 

From: "kaila r" < >
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 17:44:45 -0500
To: <sharon@sharonsiamon.com>
Subject: About your books...

Dear Sharon,
I absolutely loved you books "SKY HORSE, FIRE HORSE & NIGHT HORSE." My favourite book was NIGHT HORSE. I liked this book the best because of how all the characters changed.

I liked the way you totally changed Alison's character from snobby to nice and willing to give.

My favourite part was when Windy was giving birth to Breezy and Alison gave up her most expensive sweater to use to dry off the foal. This was her biggest change from the character she use to be. This part in her change in character I noticed the most.

I also liked the part when Windy was giving birth and Becky completely changed her feelings about horses. She named Breezy and wanted to train her. This was the part that stuck out the most about Becky's change in character.

When Meg came back to Mustang Mountain a year later she didn't really want to be there because Silver wasn't there. She acted like she was so miserable until she met the young boy. This is what made her whole trip to Mustang Mountain complete.

I really liked all three of your books and I can't wait until your fourth book comes out in the spring.

Hope you write back soon!

From, Kaila R.

(p.s. We met at the Royal Winter Fair and I bought all three of your books and you signed all of them for me! Thanks again for signing my books. I am going to keep them and give them to my kids to read when I get older.)


From: "Dave A." < >
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2003 19:08:05 -0600
To: fanmail@sharonsiamon.com
Subject: hi from Dana G.

Hi My name is Dana G,

I am one of your contest winners from Young Rider! I was so excited to receive the book in the mail. I'm currently reading another book right now called Thoroughbred. When I'm done reading that one I'm going to start reading Sky Horse. I have a horse named Razi. She is a 5 year old Paint horse. I found her in a mag. in the classified adds. I am 13 years old and I fell in love with horses when in pre-school. I love your website. I hope you can e-mail me back I would love to keep in touch with you.


From: Laura M. <_>
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 15:45:30 -0500 (EST)
To: fanmail@sharonsiamon.com
Subject: Your new series........

I have currently purchased the first 2 books in your new series mustang mountain. I just finished reading the first one and I absolutely love it! I was wondering though when Rodeo Horse and Spirit horse will be released. And also if your other two books Night Horse and Wild horse could be bought in Chapters (in Canada). I love your series alot and want to read them all!! Thanx for your time

Laura


 


Sky Horse (Mustang Mountain 1)
by Maureen Garvie

"Right from page three, when a grizzly interrupts Becky's hissy fit in a mountain meadow, Sky Horse hasn't a dull moment."


Adventure centres on girls and horses in the wilds
by Candace Fertile

"Girls, horses, Rocky Mountains -- can it get any better for a kids' (ages 8-12) book?"

"Giving a nod to environmental concerns and animal rights, Siamon has offered her readers a lively adventure that will captivate anyone thrilled by the beauty and strength of horses and mountains -- and young people."


Check out these reviews for Mustang Mountain

http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol8/no18/horse.html

http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol9/no10/nighthorse.html

http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol11/no12/freehorse.html


Check out the reviews of the whole Stage School Series at

http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol6/no21/stageschool.html

 


Check out the reviews of my Sleepover Series at

http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol7/no3/sleepoverseries.html


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