Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stay the Distance~Mara Dabrishus | Review

Title: Stay the Distance
Author: Mara Dabrishus
Genre: Sports, YA Equestrian
Length: 216 Pages
Release: March 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

July Carter’s world is perfect from the back of a horse. From the ground, everything is a complete mess: her jockey mom ran off for California years ago, her dad always seems more interested in the horses than in her, and the horse July wants for herself will never be hers.

Even though the New York racing circuit has taught her not to get attached, July can’t help connecting with Kali, a hopeless filly that refuses to run when it counts. When bankruptcy rumors start swirling around the barn, the future is murkier than ever. July can’t stand losing one more thing, and Beck, the barn owner’s son, knows more about the rumors than anyone else. July will get the truth, even if she has to pry it out of him, for Kali’s sake and her own.

You can purchase this novel through Amazon (in the US) here
I'm always worried, picking up a horse book. Being a horse person, it's always hard to determine which ones will be worth your time and which ones will make you cringe. This one I am happy to say, was excellent. 

Mara Dabrishus obviously knows her horses. I went through a phase where I was obsessed with Thoroughbred horse racing, so it was nice to test out that knowledge with this novel. The explanations about the tracks, the races, the horses, the training, everything was just spot on. And the writing was really beautiful. I was expecting this to read more like a middle grades book geared toward teens and adults (and don't get me wrong, I love well done middle grade books), but it didn't read like that at all. It read just like I would expect a YA novel to read when set in a horse world. I haven't had much experience with authors getting this to balance out well, but here it was excellent. 

July was an extremely likable main character. She was very mature for her seventeen years and her personality and situation were very easy to relate to. I found myself immediately drawn to her. Her love of horses was a refreshing thing and I loved reading about her time in the saddle and how much she enjoyed it. She handled so many stressful situations with just the right mix of teen angst and mature levelheadedness. 

The relationships in this novel were beautifully depicted. July's mom left four years before to chase her riding dreams across the country and hasn't been back since. The way this was handled was brilliant. Her mom just irked me, but I thought the resolution to the situation was very satisfying. And her relationship with her sister and dad were perfect. Communication is hard, even when you care about the people around you. Talking is hard to do when all you've known is silence. I know from personal experience that it's much easier to talk with my horse than with my family. July and Beck were also rather adorable. He was just the right amount of annoying to make me love him. Bri, July's best friend, was a nice touch as well. 

The interactions between July, her family, the horse owners, the horses, and the stable crew was brilliantly depicted. This is an excellent novel for any reader, but I think that teenage, horse crazy girls would fall in love with it. It's just the book I was always searching for when I was that age. I don't know if there will be any more books written about July Carter, but I will definitely read them if there are.    

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