10 July 2016

Born to Run

Author: Ann Hunter
Series: North Oak #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Alex's life has never been easy.  Given up for adoption when she was born, she has been in the system ever since.  Though she has lived in several foster homes, she always finds herself returning to particular home, even though the foster mother is anything but loving and caring.

When Born to Run starts, thirteen-year-old Alex is holding a gun over her dead foster mother while panicking.  Her heart is also breaking over her dead foster sister, who died in her arms.  With the police on their way, Alex decides to run, afraid of going to jail for the murder.

Alex winds up at North Oak horse ranch, the most prestigious horse racing farm in the country; considering the revelations later in the book, I found it oddly coincidental that she should just happen to end up there of all places.  Taken in, somewhat begrudgingly, by the vet and her family, Alex struggles to fit in while continually running from her past.

I've been on the search for a new horses series to read while I wait patiently for Netflix to add the next season of the Heartland series.  This first installment in the North Oak series was available for free on Amazon, so I decided to give it a try.  Though Alex is thirteen and the writing level feels like it is definitely targeted for middle grade kids, the main topic - the murder of her foster mother - of this story felt higher than that level.  Especially when, throughout the novel, Alex has flashbacks to what exactly happened that night as she struggles with the guilt and the fear.  I thought some of that should have been toned down for the targeted audience.  The book also has some Christian/God undertones.  While not overly preachy, it was definitely there.

While not on the same par as the Heartland series (which I obsessed over growing up) in my opinion, Born to Run was still a fun read for avid horse readers.  While the horse farm felt more like a backdrop that an integral part of the novel, Hunter sets it up to definitely be a horsey series down the road now that the main conflict has been resolved.  Alex also reminded me of a younger Kris Furillo.

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