By Cinda Jo Bauman
Middle Grade Fiction
Setting: Montana horse ranch and vicinity
Kylie Hannigan is being held prisoner by a secret. It’s a secret she only shares with her horses.
Once upon a time, the twelve year-old and her horse trainer mom dreamed of starting a rescue horse ranch. But that dream has gone up in smoke as Mom’s behavior has become so erratic, Kylie barely recognizes her. She doesn’t understand why her mom’s acting so weird. It’s embarrassing.
When Mom quits taking an interest in the horses, Kylie knows something is wrong. Something big. But what? How can she find out? Who can she talk to? Or should she?
Kylie can’t even talk to Joey ”the human vacuum cleaner” McLagan, her neighbor and best friend since childhood. But if Kylie doesn’t speak up to another person, who’s going to help Mom? How long will fear and shame keep Kylie captive? As Kylie’s life begins to spin out of control, she wonders if she’ll ever feel safe again. Will her life ever get back on track? How?
Has It All
This gentle faith-flavored story has it all: Friendship. Family. Faith. Conflict and despair. Hope and triumph. A horse named Dragonfly. A “Calf-A-Thon.” A welcoming whinny and the promise of spring sunshine. Community. “God’ll send you a team.” It tackles a tough subject – a parent with mental illness – with sensitivity, sagacity, and authenticity.
Briskly paced with a plot as nimble as a barrel racer, each chapter glides seamlessly into the next. The story is well thought out and features finely crafted characters, realistic tensions and genuine questions. Dialogue and action are carefully balanced, effectively grabbing and keeping the reader’s attention throughout. Besides. Fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies “topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped topping and chocolate syrup”? (Chapter 31)
Oh. About that dream? Maybe Kylie and her parents can use their work with horses to help others…? Cuz you never know what’ll happen when you let God take the reins.
You don’t have to be a horse lover or a middle schooler to enjoy this wonderful, uplifting story with a timely message. I loved this book. Didn’t want it to end. Indeed, Only My Horses Know is a rich, rewarding read for anyone who enjoys a sturdy story well told. It’s an outstanding achievement for a debut novel.
Only My Horses Know is book one in the Hope and Horses series. Can’t wait for the next one!
Who’s on your team?
Our Rating: 4.5
About the Author
Cinda Jo Bauman lives in Central Illinois with her husband and dogs. During her high school years, she took every art class offered along with every child development class. After a class where she spent part of the day at a daycare, child development won out over art. Years of story time led to a love of children’s picture-books, which made her wish she had stuck with art.Â
Flash forward to today, and she still loves children’s books! After researching and much study; learning about writing and illustrating children’s books, she joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and found her passion. Besides writing children’s picture books and middle-grade novels, Cinda also creates with cut paper sculptures and paints in oil and acrylic. She loves iris flowers and the color purple.
Only My Horses Know is her debut middle-grade novel.
Find out more about Cinda:
Visit Cinda’s website
Check out Cinda’s YouTube Channel.