The insider peek behind the scenes of the horse racing world is intriguing, especially insights into care and training, and observations like “even if you lose the first eight races, there is always the hope that the ninth will be your lucky race.” Gennie’s dilemma, meanwhile, will resonate with readers who have faced tragedy and upheaval. With new friends, a new boyfriend, and a new perspective on her life, Gennie has to decide between the future she thought she wanted and the future that’s suddenly opened up to her, giving readers tremendous opportunity for deep emotions alongside Gennie as she learns, grows, and blossoms.
The prose is mostly clear and inviting, though Dulka occasionally describes scenes in terms of camera angles and cinematic framing (“Our camera zooms out from her content smile, revealing the cluttered rec room…”), which works well in some opening chapters, as Dulka specifically contrasts the reality of horses with how they appear in movies. Later, though, it’s not as clearly motivated and somewhat jarring. The romance itself is sweet, and Gennie is a likable character who experiences very real, life-changing tragedy that will spark compassion in readers and inspire them to persevere no matter the circumstances.
Takeaway: Sweet YA slice-of-life in the world of horse racing.
Comparable Titles: Kate Marchant’s Float, Joanna Campbell’s A Horse Called Wonder.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-