Author: Mara Dabrishus
Genre: YA Contemporary/Sports/Equestrian/Romance
Length: 246 Pages
Release: September 2016
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Stay the Distance was one of my favorite reads in 2015, so I was eagerly awaiting the release of this sequel. It was only on my kindle for a matter of hours before I started reading, devouring this in hours. And I was not disappointed.
There are some frustrating things in this novel, so let me go ahead and tell you about that. July was somewhat frustrating, but so realistic. One of the things that drove me the most crazy about her was her inability to communicate, but I think this really only bothered me because it resonates so deeply with me. Communication is definitely not my strong point. There are also certain relationships that were left with more gray areas than I would have liked (but there is another book coming, so I have hopes that will be resolved). July was also slightly more judgemental than I remember from Stay the Distance, but I think that had more to do with the stress she was dealing with from family, school, horses, and friends. Finding a good balance can be difficult in life, so even though this was frustrating, it made sense.
The thing that I continue to praise about Mara is her ability to write horses and actually make me feel like I'm there with them. So often this doesn't come through well in writing, but in these books it's done beautifully. I always feel like I'm there in the moment, working alongside July and everyone else. That, to me, is magic. Horses are one of my absolute favorite things about life and I want to read about them in a way that makes them live for everyone, not just those of us lucky enough to spend every day in their company. Mara makes them live.
These books are not just horse books though, so never fear. July has a lot going on with her family. A sister who is there but could disappear at any second. A mother who left only to show up expecting to mend what was so thoroughly broken. A father who sees everything but has just as much trouble communicating as July herself. And then the problem of friends. Bri, the best friend she should be rooming with at college instead of ditching to train horses, who is calling her to come to the city. Beck, her maybe-boyfriend who resides in a world far removed from her own. And of course everything converges at once, making this a memorable few months for July.
If you wanted more after reading Stay the Distance, then All Heart delivers. More horses. More Lighter and Kali. More family drama. More July and Beck. More pain and more growth. A solid follow-up that I would highly recommend.