One of my students introduced me to The Outside of Horse while conferencing this year. I’m not by any means a horse lover, but I do take my students suggestions seriously, so I downloaded a sample, enjoyed the narration, felt sympathy for the character, and bought the book. Thank you, Alexa!! Hannah’s father returns from Iraq missing the lower portion of his leg. The spark he had before he left for war is gone, and his days of commercial fishing are over. His behavior and flashbacks create so much stress around the house that his wife (Hannah’s step mother) and Hannah’s half-brother move out. Hannah is left to care for someone who doesn’t want to get better. One day, though, during her work at a local horse stable, she hears about equine (horse) therapy and wonders whether it will help her father. Getting him to commit, though, is a completely different matter.
Rorby’s gritty look at the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on the returning soldiers and their families is an appropriate and timely social commentary for young readers. Equine therapy is gaining steam with returning veterans suffering from PTSD and who have gone through amputations. I learned more from this young adult novel than I have from any other novel of it’s kind. Thank you Ms. Rorby.