Sep 2, 2008

Book Rec: Blue Moon

Blue Moon
by Marilyn Halvorson
Published: 1994, 2004

Can Bobbie Jo take a beat-up old horse and turn her into a champion barrel racer?
The first thing I have to say about this book is that it's 109 pages, and the type is relatively large. Given that the actual story starts on page 7 (this is the first book I've seen that starts the page numbers at the title page), it's actually 102 pages of story. If you're really focused, you can finish this book in a matter of minutes.

It's first person, told from B.J.'s viewpoint and starts at an auction. B.J. has scraped together all her money, some $700, and went to the auction to pick up a yearling that she can train to become a barrel racer. Only when she got to the auction she wound up buying a blue roan mare. She blames this mainly on the mare's color, because she's been obsessed with blue roans ever since reading a picture book way back when. When she goes to pay for the mare, she's ten dollars short and told that if she can't come up with the money the mare will be resold. She races out to find $10, because there are kill buyers at the auction and the mare in question was in some danger of being bought for meat.

While looking for $10, she runs into Cole. Cole is all seventeen and cocky and calls B.J. Blue Jeans, which B.J. absolutely hates. But she grabs him and demands that he give her ten dollars, which after mocking her a little he eventually gives her about eight dollars and change. She rushes back to give the cashier her money and insists that she'll get the rest ($1.25) later. The cashier just rolls his eyes and makes up for it himself, so she's got her horse. Only the horse hates trailers, so as she's the only person there that can get this horse on the trailer, Cole appears again and helps her out. But then he gets fired for walking off his job to help her. Poor Cole. B.J. tells herself that it's not her fault he was being stupid, and takes the horse home to her less than thrilled family.

Her family are dairy farmers, and they need work over the summer. So eventually B.J. gives in to her guilt over getting Cole fired and finds him in school the next day to offer him this government assistance program job or whatnot, because she can't do it given that she's family and all. He takes her up on her offer after initially refusing because he's the proud cowboy type. He also has long, curly blond hair...which I have to blame on the fact that this was first published in 1994. Really, I can't imagine who in their right mind would allow that to happen to their head.

Well, anyway. Cole is also pretty good with horses, so he likes watching B.J. deal with the mare, who is all beaten up and angry, but remarkably quiet and good under saddle. He also won't let B.J. pay him back his $8 and change, insisting he's got a stake in the mare...much to B.J.'s annoyance. He begins to help her out training the mare, which she eventually names Blue Moon because Cole's crippled dad comes over to look at her and says something about how rare a horse like it is. B.J. keeps training Blue Moon for barrel racing, and she and Cole start striking up a friendship that you know is eventually going to turn into a relationship. Only then he has to go start acting weird about Blue Moon and B.J. gets all offended when she thinks he's not totally supportive of their chances at winning. But they get over it and go to the barrel racing event thing, and Blue Moon wins the competition.

On the way back to the dairy farm, they nearly get run off the road and Cole has the chance to tell her why he's been acting so weird. As it happens, his dad used to be a big time horse trainer before they were run off the road by a drunk driver, crippling him and causing him to lose his job. So they only have these three horses and are basically poor, but because his dad used to be someone he knows who Blue Moon is. She's a mare that was stolen from some big name ranch, giving B.J. the chance to do the right thing and call up the previous owners. The previous owners are brilliant and wonderful and they ask B.J. how much she paid for the horse. Then they tell her that she can keep the mare if she's willing to breed Blue Moon to Cole's fantastic stallion so they can have the foal. B.J. is okay with this. The end.

So yeah, like I said it's really short. But the weird thing about it is B.J. and Cole are actually good characters. B.J. is spunky and pretty confident, blowing the Typical Perfect Horse Story Girl out of the water, and I liked Cole despite his horrible hair. I just pretended it didn't exist, and managed to get through the story just fine.

I don't know what I think about the ending, as it flies out of nowhere and seems fairly unrealistic, but that's usually how the girl-might-have-to-give-up-horse-but-doesn't plot goes. All in all, I'd say it's the strongest 109 page horse story I've ever read. I don't know if that's saying something or not, but it's an enjoyable read that will take under an hour.

So...I think I have Dead Heat coming up this week. As well as Chance Meeting by Laura Moore and Ashleigh's Hope, because I have to get through all the Bentley books. I've also decided to start reviewing some television on this blog, mainly because I decided to Google "thoroughbred series" and "wildfire" together to see what happened. Naturally I got reviews for each being compared to each other. So I decided to bite the bullet. If other people think this, obviously I have to finally watch this stupid show, right? So I'm going to watch Wildfire. I'm also going to start watching Caitlyn's Way, mainly because it's syndicated and easy to find completely random episodes. So we'll have some television-related blog entries starting this week, probably.

That's all the news here.


Elizabeth said...

Is she actually called B.J. in the book, or did you get sick of thinking of her as Bobbie Jo?

Tell me how Wildfire is! It seems like it should be good, since I desperately wanted a Thoroughbred movie when I was little. On the other hand, I am unreasonably annoyed by it. I guess Wildfire, to me, will always be the 1980s anime series.

Mara said...

She's called both Bobbie Jo and B.J. Then there's Blue Jeans. I went with B.J. because, yes, it's just easier.

I will definitely post my findings on Wildfire...episode by ridiculous episode. I've seen one or two episodes a few years ago, but it never really struck me as something I had to watch. Now, though, it seems like a necessity to watch it.

sundae_mourning said...

oh man, Wildfire had *such* potential if they only took thirty seconds to verify basic racing facts instead of just throwing anything out there. it's like Bentley started churning out scripts.

Anonymous said...

Huh. This bears a remarkable resemblance to Tin Can Tucker by Lynn Hall. In that one, a down-on-her-luck runaway girl finds a new home on the rodeo circuit, training a bound-for-the-slaughter blue roan mare to become a champion barrel racer. There is also a charming guy that helps her along. I haven't read Tin Can Tucker in years, of course, but the horse's color, the barrel racing, the teaming-up of the girl and the guy is so similar it immediately came to mind when I read this review.

Mara said...

Hum, that is an odd coincidence. I will have to look around for Lynn Hall's book, now that you mention it.