Monday, November 2, 2020

MG Contemporary Review of On A Good Horse by Darby Karchut

On A Good Horse by Darby Karchut
Format:  E-ARC
Publisher:  Owl Hollow Press
Number of pages:  246
Publishing:  November 10th, 2020
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Opening Lines:  "The sorrel horse eyed the man.  Not foe, but not friend.  Nope.  Not even a little.  Well not yet, anyway." 

After Alex Nash's mom suddenly dies, his father flies him out to Colorado to live with him for the summer.  Initially it's only meant to be a temporary solution, or at least until custody can be determined.  Alex is very apprehensive at first.  Wondering why he can't just stay in New York with his Aunt and Uncle?  They clearly prefer that he live with them.  Alex hardly even knows his father,  Rob Nash,  he's just the man that he shares DNA with.  All this is happening while Alex is still trying to process his mom's death and dealing with his own grief.  He's even questioning whether living with his dad was something his mom would have ever wanted.  Then Alex's dad surprises with a very special gift, his very own horse named  Rio.  Rio is meant as a peace offering between the two, but maybe it can turn into just the something that they both needed.  

On A Good Horse is told in the dual perspective of Alex mixed in with chapters that feature the internal dialogue of Rio.  Rio is sympathetic to Alex's grief and always expresses a desire in wanting to help him overcome his sadness.  Rio's also the first to recognize that Alex and his father need to mend their relationship.  He's sort of a link between the two where they can share information and Alex can become more "horse savvy."  For Rio he just wants to ride fast across the open range and share that feeling with Alex.   Karchut wonderfully captures that feeling of what riding a horse feels like for the very first time.  The nervousness, anticipation and slight fear.  For Alex it's developing a trust between the two.    As Alex begins to take over more and more of the daily chores and care of Rio, he starts to learn more about his father, what his job entails,  why his parents split apart and just what kind of man his father is.  The relationship between Alex and his father and even Rio and Alex grows slowly.  At first there are those awkward pauses and silences, even misunderstandings between father and son, and then you start to see these beautiful moments where they begin to connect with one another on a more personal level.  This is such a beautiful story, about family and the things that connect us, I just adored the relationship that developed between Alex and his dad.  Especially the moments when Alex's dad was teaching him how to shoe a horse, talking him through the steps, teaching him how to do one and then allowing him to take over and do one of his own.  On A Good Horse will appeal to readers who love reading books about horses, and is perfect for someone who enjoys the complexity of familial relationships and stories about repairing the relationship between a father and son. 

**A huge thank you to Owl Hollow Press and NetGalley for the E-ARC **


  1. Thanks for reviewing this. One of my critique partners is writing a great MG book about a girl and a horse. I'll let her know about this one.

  2. I have always adored horses and have worked on a few horse farms helping to take care of them. This sounds like a book I will enjoy. Thanks for sharing. :)