Author: Ann Hunter
Publisher: Rebel House Ink
Date of publication: October 1st, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade
POV: 3rd person
Series: North Oak
Yearling – Book 2
Morning Glory – Book 3
To Bottle Lightning – Book 4
Where you can find Yearling: Amazon
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
A new year has come to North Oak and with it a new life for Alexandra Anderson. Will she be able to open her heart to others when it’s still battling demons from her past? Or will she go so deep into herself where no one can touch her, and risk losing Promenade in the Keeneland Yearling Sale?
Don’t miss this sequel to North Oak #1: Born to Run!
On the heels of Joanna Campbell’s beloved Thoroughbred Series, and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion comes a brand new young adult horse racing series that will sweep you away like a runaway Thoroughbred.
“I should be happy,” Alex sighed. “These folks, they’re real nice. For the first time in my life, I’m wanted. Well, they say that they want me. I almost feel needed sometimes. I don’t have to steal food anymore, or run away from what I’ve done, I’ve even got a warm bed. But the fact is… when I think of Ashley, I just want her back and nothing else. I want a life she exists in. And wanting that… it spoils what I have. I feel so ungrateful when I think of the life we could have made if we ran away from Haven together like we planned. I feel ungrateful because I would rather have a life on the streets with Ashley than a warm bed and you. I mean who in their right mind wants something like that? There’s something wrong with me.”
I am always on the hunt for a good middle-grade book for my 9 and 11-year-olds. Mainly my 11-year-old, who is an insatiable reader. So when Ann approached me to review Yearling, I gladly accepted. I am glad I did because this book was fantastic. There was no sophomore slump and honestly, that along with the vivid characters and background is what sold me on the book. Also, what sold me, was that it is a great book for anyone 11 and older (and the main reason I read it).
Alex, I wanted to reach through the book and give her a hug and tell her “It will be alright”. I am glad that the author made her as flawed as she did because it made her more relatable. I also liked that the author showed that traumatic events and losses (if you want to know what…read Born to Run) aren’t magically healed in between books. But, the author also showed how animals, in this case, a yearling named Promenade, can help a person with their healing….along with a support system and people who love unconditionally.
Now, saying what I said above, Alex was a very funny, sarcastic tween. Looking at my tween, I can say that the author is dead on with the mannerisms and attitude that Alex had. Gave me some really good laughs when I was reading. The biggest laugh was when Alex started her monthly and thought she was dying. I was outside and started laughing my butt off. Then when Hilary finds out and finds out that Alex doesn’t know anything about puberty or even had “The Talk“, she goes into Mom mode big time. Which included having Alex watch “A League of Their Own“(which personally is one of my favorite movies) and that becomes a running joke through the rest of the series. Also, Alex’s sex ed lesson was very interesting as was her reaction….lol.
The friendship storyline was fantastic and I like how the author took the time for Alex and Carol to build up their friendship. It went from Alex keeping her at arm’s length to embracing her as a friend and she was willing to do anything to protect her. Which meant standing up to Carol’s bully.
Now, I will be the first one to admit, I know nothing about Thoroughbred racing, racing farms or horses so I loved that the author explained everything in the book in ways that were understandable and interesting. From the stud services (see, I know that much…haha) to foaling to training the yearlings to training the racehorses, everything was explained in a way that never made you go “Eh”. Instead, it makes you go “Oh, well that makes sense”.
The end of the book really didn’t feel like an ending. While certain storylines were wrapped up, new ones were revealed and there are old ones that weren’t wrapped up. There was definitely an opening for book 3 (Morning Glory) and I will be posting my review of that soon!!
How many stars will I give Yearling: 4
Why: A wonderfully written middle grade book that actually brings to mind The Black Stallion series. I loved the plotlines, the characters…everything about the book.
Will I reread: Yes
Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes
Age range: Young Teen
Why: Mild cursing, no sex or violence
**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**