Summary: Struggling to live a quiet, independent life, Jackie Winger takes a job at a local horse farm to support herself as she finishes high school and seeks to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian through a scholarship. Working with horses is something she loves to do, but it connects her with her mysterious past and reveals secrets Jackie has been trying to hide. Like some of the horses she tends to, Jackie is withdrawn and shy, scared of getting hurt again and avoiding relationships as a result. When Dusty, a fellow teen co-worker, takes the time to draw her out and become her friend, he finds knowing her will change him in ways he never expected.
Number of Pages: 349
Age Range: 14-15
Review: My favourite part of Finding the Good by Tanya Patterson was Texas, Jackie’s horse. I wanted to know more about him because I honestly felt for him. Sold by Jackie (JJ)’s brother out of drunken spite, Texas goes from a stable, loving home where he is cared for and adored by a girl he has known from birth to an abusive situation that Patterson never fully tells her reader about. In the blink of an eye, Texas’ world becomes a nightmare, and by the time he reaches Starcross Farms, he’s a changed horse.
It’s no surprise that it takes Jackie so long to connect with him again or that he attacks others – Texas has lost his sense of trust and needs time to regain it. Thinking about how he must have felt when he relocated to his new home without Jackie, mostly likely wondering what had happened and where she had gone made me want to cry. With Patterson’s writing I felt his sorrow and confusion, as well as his pain.
Which is why I wish Finding the Good had been written from Texas’ perspective. I found him to be the most interesting character in the book and from my reading I know that writing believable animal characters isn’t easy. Patterson obviously has a talent for it and I think if she had written more about Texas it would have played to her strengths better. I sincerely hope she explores writing more horse stories in the future, because her writing shows that she truly understands them.
“Jackie stared. ‘Why do you suppose he did it?’
‘The horse. Why do you think he did it? He must have had a reason.’
‘He’s a horse, Jackie.’
‘Yeah, one that was beaten. If you were beaten, wouldn’t you want to get back at the person that beat you?’ she asked.
He narrowed his eyes. ‘Well sure, but that still doesn’t mean I would.’
‘For one thing, it’s not in my nature – and besides, it’s illegal.’
‘Those are man-made rules, and he’s just a horse.’
‘So in order to solve his problem, we have to think on his level.’ – Conversation between Jackie and Dusty from Finding the Good by Tanya Patterson. pages 83-84
“‘Besides, it’s always easier to analyze someone else’s problem; there aren’t any emotions in the way.'” – Jackie from Finding the Good by Tanya Patterson, page 105