As the niece of a horse trader, fourteen-year-old Sidney Criser has spent most of her life around horses. Shoveling manure, treating colic, pulling teeth, and breaking and training horses are all second nature to her, but, as a poor kid from a troubled family, the world of equitation could not be farther from her reality. In Catch Rider by Jennifer Lyne (Clarion Books; June 4, 2013), Sid struggles amidst family strife to pursue a dream guarded by privilege and secure a place in the horse world, making Catch Rider a story that is as much about growing up as it is about horses.
Living in a depressed Virginia mill town, Sid is a loner and quick to anger. She dreams of becoming a catch rider—a show rider who can ride anything with hooves, but Sid knows that skill alone will not secure her a place in the horse world; she also needs opportunity. The only family Sid has to speak of is a mother who lives with an abusive boyfriend and an alcoholic uncle whose one redeeming quality is his knowledge of horses. Sid is torn between trying to mend her broken relationships and leaving her family behind to pursue her dream.
The struggles of living in an abusive household, dealing with addiction, and chasing an implausible dream are all at the core of this gritty and believable debut. Lyne depicts a protagonist who is determined, yet cynical. Sid’s voice is both snarky and compelling, and it’s her outsider status that will make Sid appealing to teenage girls.
Jennifer H. Lyne was raised in Virginia, where she spent a lot of time around horses and eventually owned her own show barn. She worked as a location scout for fourteen feature films, and wrote and produced two independent features with her husband. She lives in New York City. Visit her website at jenniferlyne.squarespace.com.