May 1, 2014

Give a Man a Horse

by Charles J. Finger

I've been slogging through this book lately, finally decided to just close it. It's an older juvenile fiction, one I must have once found at a library sale or free table. An adventure story about a young man named Bob, bored and restless working in an office, who gets sent by his company to oversee the delivery of two valuable horses to a prosperous South American ranch. Of course thing go wrong, starting with horse thieves. He sets off after the thieves with some local volunteers and borrowed horses. Many adventures follow, including a shipwreck, and Bob gets stranded in an area he thinks is uninhabited. He meets up with some natives, goes off travelling with them, finds gold, catches and tames wild horses and so on. Runs into other white men who have made settlements. I did like how the integrity of the characters was shown, but unfortunately never felt invested in any of them as a reader.There was an interesting part where Bob learns how to live among the natives, acquiring skills and realizing that he has much to learn from them. Later (I flipped ahead) one of his native companions ends up in New York City with just as much culture shock on his part - but even that did not interest me enough to finish reading the book. Transitions were abrupt throughout the storyline, and it often switched between character viewpoints as well. I also found the illustrations rather disturbing, although tried to ignore this. Nice linework, but the people and animals sometimes had odd proportions with necks and waists too long. It reminded me of Mannerism.

Oh, and SPOILER both the original horses intended for shipment die early on in the book. I was surprised and disappointed at this, although I guess it was realistic for the circumstances.

Abandoned      340 pages, 1938

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