Keeping Secrets (Timber Ridge Riders Book 1) by Maggie Dana is a beautiful equestrian YA novel.
What's the story?
A valuable show jumper is dead, and it's all her fault, which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has put horses and riding out of her life. Forever!
But her new summer job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who's now confined to a wheelchair, takes Kate back to the barn--the last place she wants to be. Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? More important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean who lives for only two things--winning ribbons and causing trouble?
Then a riding accident forces Kate's secret into the open ... and it's just the moment Angela has been waiting for.
What did I think of the Story?
What a fantastic story, just the right length for children who are just about to master reading a full length YA novel.
Kate is a really likable character and has been treated absolutely appallingly by the riding school where she used to ride. Her father, a scientist, does not have much time for her and she is spending the summer with her aunt - although Kate has other ideas about how she wants to spend her summer.
Holly, is the daughter of a riding instructor / yard manager. She was involved in a car accident, in which her father died. Since the accident she has been unable to walk – although the doctors can find no medical reason why not. Kate is employed to be a companion for Holly throughout the summer holidays. I really liked how Dana portrayed Holly – she is such a bright, heroic young lady. She is determined to live life to the full and her goal is very clear. One day she will get back in the saddle. One day, she will ride again.
Keeping with the tradition of most pony books, there is the one spoilt rich girl at the yard. Angela thinks everyone is beneath her and even though she isn’t, she believes that she is the best rider at the school. Although Angela is every person at the stables worse nightmare, there is a little sympathy towards her, for she has an incredibly pushy mother, who cares more about her daughter winning ribbons than anything else.
Kate comes across as very mature, especially when she is faced with Angela's spite. She does not rise to the bait, but remains calm and does her very best not to get riled-up by Angela's taunts and bullying behaviour.
The story was a real comfort read. It made me think of sunny-days and horses...what could be more perfect?! It reminded me greatly of the pony books of my youth -- The novels of author, Christine Pullen-Thompson, comes to mind. I can see that Dana's story would bring great enjoyment to readers age 9 and over. So if you have pony-mad children in your life - as I do - then you may want to check this book out!
Where Can I buy the book?
About the author.
Maggie Dana's first riding lesson, at the age of five, was less than wonderful. In fact, she hated it so much, she didn't try again for another three years. But all it took was the right instructor and the right horse and she was hooked for life.
Her new riding stable was slap bang in the middle of Pinewood Studios, home of England's movie industry. So while learning to groom horses, clean tack, and muck stalls, Maggie also got to see the stars in action. Some even spoke to her.
Born and raised near London, Maggie now makes her home on the Connecticut shoreline where she divides her time between hanging out with the family's horses and writing her next book in the Timber Ridge Riders series.