by Sara Gruen.
At eighteen, Annemarie Zimmer is a world class equestrian and Olympic contender when she’s badly injured in a jumping accident that ends the life of her beloved mount, Highland Harry.
Fast forward 20 years. Annemarie is laid off from her job and her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Feeling as helpless as she did after the accident destroyed her future plans, she takes her rebellious teenage daughter and returns to her parents’ New Hampshire horse farm and riding academy. There, the vital father who taught her to ride is now wasting away from ALS.
She’s always felt that she failed her parents by giving up on her equestrian career, but she doesn’t know how to make it up to them at this late date. She’s felt emotionally empty for a long time. Connecting with her dying father, her ultra-disciplined Austrian mother, or her troubled daughter all seem beyond her. Even her attempts at barn management lead to disaster.
Things begin to change when she rescues a starved gelding with rare brindled coloring that closely resembles her old horse Harry. As she faces family loss and generational conflict, her search for the origins of the mystery horse gives her focus and brings her close to a long-ago romantic interest, the family veterinarian.
Although at times I wanted to slap Annemarie upside the head and tell her to pull herself together, I couldn’t help but sympathize with all she’d been through. As a fellow equine lover, I mourned Harry and rooted for the brindled horse who seemed to offer her a second chance. In the end, Annemarie’s rediscovery of passion and caring, and her renewed ability to walk her own path with confidence, made for a satisfying reading experience.