My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After devouring Water for Elephants and also enjoying Ape House I went ahead and started Ms. Gruen's first book, Riding Lessons. I had heard mixed reviews about this one, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Let me start off by saying that the main character's life is a bona fide MESS. Everything that can possibly go wrong does. Thankfully, the author does not waste a lot of time ruining her character's life, instead she sets the stage in the first chapter or two and then the story takes off from there.
Annemarie has been unhappy for 20 years and she never really knew it until her life spirals out of control: at 38 years old, her husband leaves her, she gets laid off, and her teenage daughter is on the brink of expulsion. To top it all off, she already has a strained relationship with her parents (partly due to a riding accident that almost left her paralyzed years ago) and she finds out that her dad has ALS. What else can possibly go wrong? Not much, but things can get a whole lot better (eventually). What this book is really about is how Annemarie heals her past and fixes her present so she can look forward to the future. Along the way, she is helped by a long-lost love and a very special horse. At one point, I really thought Annemarie went off the deep end and I couldn't imagine how this book could possibly end well, but it most certainly does. I can't wait to read the sequel: Flying Changes, so I'm off to get started!