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Thief of Happy Endings

Review

Thief of Happy Endings

From Kristen Chandler, author of GIRLS DON’T FLY and WOLVES, BOYS AND OTHER THINGS THAT MIGHT KILL ME comes a new novel set in the Wild West and about getting back on the horse after falling off. Get ready for THIEF OF HAPPY ENDINGS.

Cassidy Carrigan needs a change. After her parents split up, her friends abandoned her and she stopped going to school altogether, Cassidy feels like her world is spinning out of control. Determined to gain perspective and work through her issues, Cassidy signs herself up to spend her summer in Wyoming, working on a ranch and riding horses with other troubled teens. This is a rather strange and daring decision for someone who is terrified of getting back on a horse after a childhood injury left her injured and traumatized. Cassidy goes anyway, hoping to get over her fear and rebuild her confidence.

"Set against a captivating and expansive background...Kristen Chandler’s newest novel about resilience is great for lovers of romance, horses and the Wild West."

However, Cassidy realizes she may have gotten herself in too deep as she starts off camp fighting with her roommate, living in a tent, cleaning outhouses every morning before the sun rises. But worse than all of that is that she has to take riding lessons from the conceited, unbearable, yet ruggedly handsome junior wrangler, Justin --- the same Justin who is also in charge of the wild mustangs that capture Cassidy’s heart and attention.

So Cassidy spends the summer doing chores around the ranch, conquering her fear of riding horses, making friends, and learning everything she can about the wild mustangs and the danger they are in. She may even learn a little about falling in love…

Above all, this book is a story about horses. This is perfect if you love horses. Throughout the book, head rancher Coulter teaches all the teenagers the logistics of riding a horse as well as the psychological component to working with horses, which Kristen Chandler explains in detail. The teens travel to rodeos, train horses themselves and Cassidy becomes involved in trying to solve the wild mustang overpopulation problem. I came into this book having only read the dust jacket cover and expecting a swoony love story between a handsome cowboy and a teenager struggling with her mental health. Instead, I finished it knowing more than I ever could have hoped to know about horses and a little disappointed with the romance and mental health plot lines.

However, despite the slightly misleading description, I enjoyed the book for what it did present. Amidst the horse training and mustang rescuing, Kristen Chandler wove a story of resilience and pushing forward in life against all odds. Through her work with horses, Cassidy learns how to get back on the horse --- both literally and figuratively. She learns how to let go of fear and the past and what hope feels like. While the mental health representation was not what I expected, Chandler instead managed to convey a broader message to teens fighting any internal battle that things can get better.

Set against a captivating and expansive background of the Wyoming country and enhanced with colorful characters of every shape and background, Kristen Chandler’s newest novel about resilience is great for lovers of romance, horses and the Wild West.

Reviewed by Ellie T., Teen Board Member on July 10, 2018

Thief of Happy Endings
by Kristen Chandler