cover image HOPE RISING


Kim Meeder, . . Multnomah, $12.99 (254pp) ISBN 978-1-59052-269-1

A 16-year-old girl, mute since the loss of her parents, speaks her first words—to an abused and emaciated horse. This moment was really the birth of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Oregon, writes Meeder, the founder and operator of the ranch that rescues abused horses and gives disadvantaged children a chance to care for them. Readers will need an entire box of tissues handy for this collection of real-life stories of incidents at the ranch: two tough-as-nails boys minister lovingly to a horse that has, like them, suffered terrible neglect; in an answer to prayer, strangers donate hundreds of dollars so an impoverished girl can have a pony for Christmas. Most stories are emotional, even cloying, though some are comical and a few—such as one about a horse that was rescued too late to avoid being put down—sidestep the obligatory happy ending. The writing can at times be maudlin; far too many people are described as having "hollow eyes," for example, and the vignettes are encumbered by gratuitous adjectives intended to drive home a dramatic punch. Despite the over-the-top writing style, the emotions are real and intense. Readers will recoil from Meeder's gritty descriptions of the devastating neglect of horses and children, then cheer when it seems their interaction provides healing for both. Meeder laces the stories with her testimony of God's faithfulness and providence, making this an earnest and loving gift book for the Christian market. (Aug.)