Previously I posted the tour stop for this book (read an excerpt, and if still open, enter the giveaway); however, I was also given a copy of the book to review.

CW: problematic depictions of an autistic character and Islamic faith.

I picked up this book because it was a horse story, and as a horse story this book delivers. We receive multiple points of view, including that of not one, but two, horses in the story. However, because of this, while the book felt like it might be young adult, it may also be aimed at younger readers such as middle grade. I read the story in a couple of sittings. It’s a nice, short read that turns pages quickly. Because of this, everything wraps up a bit too neatly for this reader. I was expecting the happy ending, but for everyone to receive a good ending, and for it to come about seemingly “off the page” as it were, felt like something was missing. The depiction of the autistic character bothered me. As an autistic person, I know autism, and neurodivergence as a whole, is a 3d spectrum. Even so, the times we were in this character’s head seemed overly simplistic, especially for a character who is intermittently mute. Likewise, the depictions of Islamic faith seemed to be rather stereotypical, and while there was an effort to indicate the positive aspects of the faith and the good deeds done within the community, it seemed limited compared to the overall depictions, and the decisions made by one of the characters.

I wish I could whole-heartedly recommend this book without any reservations, but I just can’t. The entire girl with limited horse experience goes on to win the big competition (that’s not a spoiler, as we know this in the first chapter, and then see how she got there) is something that I imagine my younger self would have thoroughly enjoyed. It’s the kind of feel good material that Disney movies are made of. If we’d had more Tillie (less of “the book”) and more horses (and less of her brother), I think this story would have worked much better.