Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond

Harper Perennial. Aug. 2021. 304p. ed. by Halimah Marcus. ISBN 9780063009257. $17. LIT
This collection of essays, edited by Marcus (executive director, Electric Literature), isn’t just about horses; it’s also about perseverance, identity, and breaking stereotypes. In the introduction, Marcus describes the imagined “horse girl” of internet memes: a privileged, white, heterosexual, cis woman. The essays in this collection, however, are by writers of diverse sexualities, class origins, and racial, ethnic, and gender identities; each essay has its own powerful voice. The opening essay, written by T Kira Madden in short sentences with witty sarcasm, is about the horses who do all the work when ridden. Carmen Maria Machado follows with an essay broken into short sections, one of which consists only of unique and absurd horse show names. Other essays in the collection use varied storytelling devices: Alex Marzano-Lesnevich compares their own riding experiences to an 1800s historical tale; Allie Rowbottom’s present-tense perspective looks at events from her riding past that evoke the same emotions today as when they happened.
VERDICT All readers, whether they love riding or have never seen a horse up close, will appreciate these essays. This collection not only shares multiple perspectives from the communities of riders and horse fans but also provides commentary on growing up and dealing with both disappointments and successes.
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