This sequel to The Georges and the Jewels (2009) is Smiley at her finest--detailed, nuanced, absorbing. Abby Lovitt's eighth-grade year starts out feeling less tumultuous than the year before: Her school life is more settled, her parents more at peace and Ornery George, a horse she struggled with, has been sold. Though she continues to ride several horses a day, two in particular fill her heart: Black George, who will jump anything, and Jack, her beautiful orphan foal. Suddenly it seems she will lose them both. Black George is so talented he's sure to attract an offer Abby's Daddy won't refuse, and, though her father bought Jack's dam in good faith, she may have been stolen, which means Jack may have to be returned. Abby, though, is learning to separate the gold from the dross, to see her family, friends, the rich people on the horse-show circuit and especially her horses with unflinching, compassionate truth. Black George and Jack are good horses, in every sense of the word; Abby will be good, too. Rich, real and utterly engrossing.
Jane gives an overview of the book:
Jane Smiley was born in Los Angeles, California, moved to the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri as an infant, and lived there through grammar school and high school (The John Burroughs School).
After getting her Bachelor of Art at Vassar College in 1971, she traveled in...