Stacy Gregg, The Girl Who Rode the Wind, HarperCollins, 1 July 2016, 336pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 97800008124311
This book was originally released in hardback last year, and this year the paperback edition has been issued. Twelve year old Lola Campione is a third generation Italian-American. She lives in New York where her family owns a training stable for racehorses. She does extremely well in school and her father has high hopes for her to be the first of her family to attend university, but Lola just wants to work with horses. An unexpected windfall, combined with Lola having time off school, means that she is able to accompany her grandmother on the first trip she has made back to her home country since she left it almost 70 years ago. They travel to her hometown of Siena, where Lola finally learns her grandmother’s story. It is inextricable from the Palio, the most dangerous horse race in the world.
This is an exciting story which will appeal to young horse lovers. Intertwined with the main narrative is the history of the Palio, Lola’s grandmother’s story, the Second World War, and the story of Siena. The author does not shy away from the darker side of the Palio – the violence, the corruption and the hatred between the contradas – but it isn’t dwelt on either. Lola is a courageous and spirited girl with a true love of horses. The story is narrated alternately by Lola and in flashbacks by her grandmother Loretta. Recommended for secondary and public libraries.
Reviewed by Rebecca Kemble