cover image Bea and the New Deal Horse

Bea and the New Deal Horse

L.M. Elliott. HarperCollins/Tegen, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-063219-00-7

In a richly characterized novel set against a precisely drawn Great Depression backdrop, a resourceful 13-year-old enters horse competitions to stave off bankruptcy at her adopted home. Awakening in the hayloft of a once-grand Virginia horse farm, Beatrice Davis is horrified to discover that her father has abandoned her and her eight-year-old sister, Vivian, “like unwanted kittens.” Claiming that he cannot care for them, the former banker leaves a note suggesting that they appeal to the farm’s owner, Mrs. Scott, whose daughter knew the girls’ late mother. Horse-loving Bea soon saves a feisty chestnut with colic, forging a unique connection with the horse and alerting Mrs. Scott to their presence. The formidable woman, once a renowned horse trainer, is loath to take on additional dependents, but she keeps the sisters on to work after an accident incapacitates her only stable hand. As Bea endeavors to become indispensable and learns more about the rural community’s Depression-era plight, she trains to compete with the difficult horse. Elliott (Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves) nimbly layers historical events—including the devastating effects of the stock market crash and FDR’s promise of a “New Deal”—and equine details into an engrossing novel for fans of The War That Saved My Life. Protagonists read as white; a secondary character cues as Black. Ages 10–up. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Mar.)