Nov 18, 2009

Star's Chance: And then they got lost in Montana.

Star's Chance
Thoroughbred #45
by Karle Dickerson

Will Star ever regain his spirit?

At last, Wonder's Star has recovered from the illness that halted his promising racing career so suddenly. The vet says he'll be back on the track in no time. But Christina Reese is convinced the colt has lost his spirit. She can't seem to communicate with him like she used to. Christina needs help.

When Lyssa Hynde offers to work her magic with Star, Christina takes the colt to Lyssa's ranch in Montana to rehabilitate. But Montana is worlds away from the track, and Christina and Star are lost there. Will Christina and Star learn to take risks and trust each other again?

The last time I read about Lyssa, I remember wishing she would drown in a shallow puddle of water. That desire really hasn't gone away, so I was curious to see how I'd react to Star's Chance, which initially seems like a flagrant device to get Lyssa back into the storyline.

Because we all love Lyssa.

Star's Chance begins with Star having rebounded from death, which seems like a pretty nifty trick because the last we saw him he was practically cast in his stall and only Christina's magical girl tears saved him from certain doom. The vet proclaims him fine, but cautions Chris about taking it easy with Star until he regains his strength. There's no telling if he'll ever bounce back to racing form, and the vet takes it even further by saying there's no telling he'll ever be strong enough to even breed. But what does he know? He is merely a vet! Christina knows what is best for her wonder pony, okay? And he's going to run in the Kentucky Derby next year, because that's what's best for the horse.

About two and a half days go by, with Christina getting ever more frustrated with Star's "lack of spirit" when she rides him. Parker mentions that if Lyssa were here, she would have Star back to his old self in a couple of hours, max. Then he has a most fantastic idea! Perhaps Christina should take Star to Lyssa, who lives on a dude ranch in Montana. Christina is certainly unenthused about this idea, telling him he is "absolutely nuts" and in no way is she taking her wonder pony to Montana to re-enact The Horse Whisperer, just without the death and the sex.

Enter Brad Townsend, because where plot goes stagnant, Brad Townsend has to be called in to stir up the pot. Asked to accompany Parker to a Townsend party, Christina is forced to stand around with people who are just as well off as she is, but have the gall to actually act rich and wear sparkly things. The nerve.

Instantly, Brad appears by Christina to tell her that he's heard about her troubles with Star, this being the third day after Star's been cleared for some light activity. Christina begins to ask how he heard, but he says, "No, it wasn't Parker. But I have my ways." Yes, he reads minds. Stunned, Christina instantly goes on alert, falling back to her default stance as indignant horse loving teen, asking him why he even cares, apparently having forgotten that Brad only antagonizes her because it is basically good sport. Brad insists that selling Star was the best business decision he ever made, taking the time to lift up her hand and point out her blisters and broken nails, because he is a master at deduction.

Christina promises that he'll regret selling Star, and he pretty much tells her that no, he will not. Then he saunters off, his work here done. Game, set, match. Brad Townsend wins at life. Immediately Christina rushes back to Parker, insisting that they have to go now so she can call Lyssa and go to Montana to help Star. Despite having only worked with Star for three days. I think someone has some instant gratification issues.

Because no one in Thoroughbred goes to school, and Ashleigh is a horrible parent, Christina goes to Montana with Lyssa's uncle, subjecting herself and me to every Western stereotype you can think of for the next hundred pages. Star is loaded onto a trailer with cattle, hauled by a truck that could very well fall apart at any second, with the radio station permanently tuned to Western music. Once they arrive in Montana, Christina is ushered into the house, where everything is beige and tastefully decorated in horse themed or Navajo prints. Instantly, some guy named Ray asks Christina if her horse's spirit is broken, and what the hell it totally is not! How dare he kind of be ignorantly astute like that! Only Christina can use similar verbiage to basically say the same thing.

Lyssa tries to placate Christina by saying that Ray doesn't know any better. He is, after all, from Arizona, where jerks come from. Ray continues to try to win Christina over, using common forms of conversation starters that Christina construes as "creepy" behavior. When she's not avoiding Ray, she's on super defensive mode with Lyssa, because despite the fact that she trailered Star all the way to Montana with heifers she ultimately wants nothing to do with Lyssa's supposed advice. Also despite being totally about Lyssa's training techniques back in Close Call.

Eventually, Lyssa demands that Christina take Star out into a reservoir in order for him to fight out his problems with her, because that's what the American Indians do, I guess. Christina isn't having any of that, no matter how many American Indians gentled horses this way. Star is a racehorse, damn it. She cannot hurt him, despite the fact that she's trailered him all the way to Montana for seemingly no reason and is about to take him on a round up type thing in the wilderness, where he will inevitably get lost and wind up roaming the countryside in search of his previously completely insane personality.

So this is what they do. Star gets loose up in the mountains, and Christina speeds off after him. Eventually they all get lost, Christina finds Star predictably injured, and winds up spending the night with him out in the wood somewhere. The next morning, Christina rides Star (sans tack, of course) into a river, where Star completely flips out and does his fight the water deal that brings his old personality back. And then they both climb out of the river and die of hypothermia.

Or not. Lyssa finds them, and all is well. Christina gets to put a checkmark next to Montana on her list of states that she has visited, and Star is set to win the Kentucky Derby. Surely he will not finish, you know, last. Or anything. That would be entirely too unjust.

  • There is one thing I liked about this book: Christina never really admits that Lyssa's advice helped or did anything positive at all. By the end, she's really had it and starts to freak out at Lyssa about how it is entirely useless to train horses to open gates. And Lyssa actually does manage to look a little sheepish about it, because her horse was the one that let Star out to begin with.
  • I really don't buy Parker telling Christina to take Star to Lyssa. I would accept this plot if Christina had dreamed up this idea, and then gotten totally overwhelmed when she finally gets there because she is a mother hen when it comes to her horse.
  • Ashleigh, you suck so much. When Christina calls her mother up to tell her about this round up she's taking Star on, the very round up in which she loses Star, the only thing Ashleigh says is, "Sounds like it will be an adventure." Right about here is when you put your foot down and demand that your daughter bring her damn wonder pony back to Kentucky, because if the magical trick is thrashing around in water, I'm pretty sure you could have done that at home.
  • Three days! She only waits three days before taking Star to Montana. Seriously.

And that was a Thoroughbred book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quality Road must regain his sanity! I know. They need to send their valuable racehorse/future stud to Montana to race over rocks and through potentially dangerous streams! He'll become magical again just like Star! Oh, if people did like Thoroughbred's girls, ALL the racehorses in the world would be awesome (but if they were all awesome, wouldn't they all be average again...?). Too bad the TB girls aren't in real life to see Rachel Alexandra. Imagine the storylines for that...