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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
Believing In Horses Out West is the third novel by Valerie Ormond featuring “horse crazy” teenager Sadie Navarro. Now 14 and living in Maryland, Sadie is the proud owner of a beautiful show horse and is active in horse rescue programs but worries that Sunny, a Palomino mare adopted by a dude ranch in Montana, isn’t in a good home. Her parents, brother, and grandmother agree to go on vacation there. Sadie is initially impressed with the ranch and its staff, including a 16-year-old hired hand named Justin, but suspicious happenings with his boss Luke begin to bother her. With her adventurous grandmother in tow, Sadie investigates only to find that danger threatens them and Sunny. Will they escape, and is Justin part of it?
In Believing In Horses Out West, Valerie Ormond gives us an engaging young adult novel that blends a love for horses and family into a coming-of-age adventure story lightly sprinkled with romance. Sadie is both accomplished and uncertain, often second-guessing her own instincts. Her military family is a source of strength, yet she often hesitates to confide in them. Her attraction to Justin and his shared love for horses is sincere, yet she comes to doubt him. The narrative is well-written and suitably paced for the young adult reader. Sadie’s courage and toughmindedness unfold as each chapter reveals her inner struggles and the developing relationships she shares with her family, horses, and friends. A great read for any teenager, boy or girl, horse lover or not.