Nov 6, 2011

Thoroughbred #49: Rising Star

Rising Star
By Karle Dickerson
Published: 2001

Hey, you guys! So I haven't read a Thoroughbred book since February 2010. I had to look this up, because it had been so long. Then I had to look up just where this story had left off with Christina before Rising Star came along and introduced Whitebrook to Louisiana. Turns out they were in Montana previously. And then everything came flooding back. It was like watching scenes from Thoroughbred flash before your eyes in a crappy montage with music by Coldplay. It was horrifying.

So let's step back on the crazy train, shall we?

Is Wonder's Star a has-been? 

No one thought Wonder's Star would get well again. Everyone was certain he would never run another race. The racing press was calling him a has-been.

But Christina Reese never gave up hope. Slowly and steadily she's been bringing Star back into racing condition. In her heart of hearts she still has Triple Crown dreams for them, but the Kentucky Derby is only a few months away and they're running out of time! Instead of starting with an easy local prep race, Christina enters Star in a tough Derby prep race, praying that he can withstand the grueling pace. Is it too much, too soon? Or will Star shine like the champion that he is? 

In the previous Star/Christina book, they were in Montana learning about the itancan from Lyssa because Star isn't being all he can be three days post deathly illness. Then the whole trip wound up being useless because all they had to do was wrestle in a pond for five seconds and magically Christina and Star are best friends again. Hooray! Let's win the Kentucky Derby!

Only since we all know Thoroughbred is basically just a roller coaster ride through Christina's manic depressive episodes, this is bound to unravel completely. Because everyone around Christina is somewhat competent, professional, and experienced, she starts to lose her shit when they unanimously agree that Star is not on the path to Kentucky Derby immortality. This collective knowledge, of course, does not equal the simple fact that no one knows Star like Christina, a line that Christina mutters to herself at least once every other chapter.

While Christina and Ashleigh are having this unspoken battle of wills, a reporter from the Racing Reporter shows up to ask Christina lots of leading questions like "Is Star a total brat?" and "Are you suffering delusions of grandeur?" Apparently the only way this woman got on the farm is because Ashleigh somehow thought she was saying Daily Racing Form every time the lady told her Racing Reporter, which is the most awful of awful racing publications in the world. Ashleigh doesn't bother to hide her disgust about this lady's employer, right before she abandons her child with a reporter she clearly does not approve of. Nice going, Ashleigh! Another example of shady parenting accomplished.

While the reporter eagerly clamors for gossip about how Star is washed up and a "bad actor," Christina becomes infuriated that anyone could think any of these things about her precious baby. She proceeds to have a literal melt down, and takes her feelings out on the track to prove this reporter wrong. Of course, because Star is a sensitive snowflake, the shit hits the fan and Christina not only delivers the most stunningly awful work in the history of Whitebrook, but because she doesn't use a crop she resorts to smacking her wonder pony around with her hand. During a work. Because when all else fails, hit your panicking mount when you're zig zagging across the track going 35 miles per hour! Awesome thought process, Chris!

So it takes about a chapter and a half for Chris to a) verbally abuse Dani and Star, b) physically abuse Star, and c) receive no punishment except for realizing her own mistakes. Because that in itself is punishment, or something. Christina proceeds to almost fall off of Star before realizing she needs to "join up" with him...although how she does that while she's clinging to his neck is questionable. Nevertheless, it happens.

Armed with proof that Christina is a total nut job, the reporter writes a pathetically childish gossip story that everyone in the country immediately believes. Christina, for about two seconds, thinks this is fine. Let everyone think Star is a has-been! At least the reporters will leave them alone now. And then she gets all pissy when everyone thinks Star is finished.

Sigh. It's so hard being locked in this kid's brain, you guys. I can't even.

Then Ashleigh decides to ship Image to Florida, where Whitebrook has historically dominated for eons. Christina takes it for the slap in the face that it is: Image is Whitebrook's Derby horse...despite the fact that Image is not Whitebrook's in any way, shape or form. Nor has she proven to be Derby caliber, or even interested in racing. Who knows. I certainly don't. Christina goes all bonkers, crashes into depression, and decides to watch Wonder's Derby tape so she can throw it in Ashleigh's face and ask her why she's trampling all over Christina's dreams.

Ashleigh, naturally, takes this to heart and tells Christina about this fabulous place called Louisiana. It's a state! In America! And Christina is all, "Tell me more about this...Louisiana." And then she's immediately turned off because such a newfangled place could never have the competition in Florida. Christina, being passionate about running her horse into the ground, will only accept G2 Derby preps or better. Little, short, dinky races are not acceptable as come back races for Star.

But then Christina hears of the Louisiana Derby, which she supposes will do for her purposes. She attempts to sweet talk her mother into her race selection using bagels, but Ashleigh has experienced an unusual moment of forethought and entered Star before Christina could have a panic attack about it.

Now we enter Christina's manic phase. She's so happy! Star is going to be awesome and prove everyone wrong, especially that evil Racing Reporter lady and all the people she converted to the opinion Christina wanted them all to have. But then she learns that Celtic Mist, the Townsend Acres horse of doom, is racing in the Louisiana Derby, sending Christina crashing into depression...despite getting what she wanted? Didn't she just want to race Star in the Florida Derby against Celtic Mist...? I'm just going to stop trying to follow her thought process. It's way too hard at this point.

So, in New Orleans, a place that does not take itself seriously (which Christina notes disdainfully while telling herself she's taking everything seriously) Christina notes with horror that it is hot, and there is jazz music everywhere, and this place has culture that she refuses to appreciate because she's busy. And then Brad Townsend and Lavinia show up to go through a comic relief sketch only found in movies meant for eight-year-old children. Dani sprays them with a hose, and then Brad steps in manure...only to scrape it off his foot without looking because he's in the Intimidate Christina Using His Persuasive Voice Zone.

Then Christina crashes again, because Celtic Mist is awesome and she should just stop trying. No one believes in her, Parker doesn't want to talk to her because she's deferring college for a year, and no one needs to know that she should be on serious medication. So she calls Ashleigh, who talks her off the ledge. Christina is happy again! And then she crashes again. Then she listens to some random track workers talk about their jobs and she's happy again because if you're going to work on a track, you should at least own a wonder pony. Those poor saps! Christina is living the dream!

And then she wins the damn race like we knew she would and they talk about red roses being better than orchids, the Louisiana Derby flower. Yeah, screw orchids. Roses are awesome.

I could get into a list of points of interest, but I think Claire already covered them here. Plus, there's a lot I find enraging about Lyssa and her stupid itancan philosophy and the superior/anti-fun attitude Christina & Co. have toward everything that I don't think can be contained in this post.

I will be moving on to some book about Parker next, because he's got Olympic issues that take whole books to cover.


Anonymous said...

I'm laughing at the thought of a 3 year old being called a "has-been" in the racing world.

geekyadventurer said...

"Ashleigh, naturally, takes this to heart and tells Christina about this fabulous place called Louisiana. It's a state! In America! And Christina is all, 'Tell me more about this...Louisiana.'"


Gen said...

I am so glad you are back and reviewing these books. And could you please do some Saddle Club? Or can I do them for you? Whichever.

Mara said...

Hey Gen,
E-mail me at wbfblog at gmail dot com. We'll talk about those Saddle Club reviews. :)