Jackie Merchant, The Promise Horse, Walker Books Australia, 1 July 2018, 272pp., $16.99 (pbk) ISBN: 9781760650568
After the death of her older sister Sissy, twelve-year-old Harry and her parents move to the country near her grandparents for a fresh start. To convince Harry that leaving her school and all her friends is a good idea, her parents promise her something that she and Sissy have wanted for years – a horse. It’s not long before Harry has the opportunity to loan a horse and start riding lessons again. But things don’t go so smoothly and Harry has to face the prospect of losing a horse she has built a bond with.
Here’s a horse book which is not just for the horse lovers – the challenges faced by Harry and her family are very relatable and open the book up to enjoyment by a wider audience. The characters are realistic and three dimensional, and their interactions and relationships are authentic. Harry in particular undergoes a lot of character development and her journey is a touching one. The ending is also realistic in that not all issues are neatly resolved, but it is a positive and hopeful finish.
Suitable for upper primary and secondary readers, this book should do well in school and public libraries.
Reviewed by Rebecca Kemble