It's the story of three sisters, Kris, Van and Marley, and their horse operation in New Zealand. The girl's mother died when Marley was born, and their father was killed in an accident three years ago, leaving them to struggle on in an attempt to keep their farm going, and their family together.
Easy is the absolute last thing it is. Kris broke her spine falling from her horse; she and middle sister Van both left school without any qualifications, and life is a constant, hard struggle. The sisters just about keep the wolf from the door by buying problem horses, schooling them, and selling them on. Just when it looks as if their ship might come in, with a pony who might win Pony of the Year, ridden by talented youngest sister, Marley, Nimble has a serious accident.
They find an unbroken pinto pony, Cruise, and he turns out to be the pony of a lifetime for Marley. The trouble with ponies of a lifetime is that on the hyper-competitive show circuit, everyone else wants to buy them, and there are some who aren't too particular in what they're willing to do to stop Marley and Cruise winning. And of course if you have the pony of a lifetime, you love him, and you want to keep him and not have him sold from under you even if it does mean the family home won't be sold. That's the crucial dilemma of the book - can you hold on to everything you love?
The author involves you completely in her characters' lives. Will Marley manage to negotiate her truly terrible efforts at school work, her first experience of romance, and an almighty dust up with her best friend? Lattey has an excellent ear for dialogue, and doesn't sugar-coat her characters, her horses, or the situations. What you get is entirely believable, and engrossing. You are right behind the characters in their fight to survive. The ponies are brilliant too. It is not easy to write a good pony - it's all too easy to have them mere vehicles for the story - but Kate Lattey achieves it effortlessly.
The plot is completely convincing. I do like a book where I haven't worked out how it will end well before I've got there. This is a fairly lengthy book, and there are a couple of places where the plot seems to lose a little pace, but this is really nitpicking at what is a very good book indeed.
I absolutely loved Dare to Dream. My only regret is that pressure of work meant it was sitting on my ereader for weeks before I had time to read it. I finished it in tears. It's moving, wrenching, funny. Goodness, it's good.
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Kate Lattey: Dare to Dream
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Age of main characters: 15, older sisters 18 and 21
The occasional swearword, but mild and don't let it put you off.
Kate Lattey's website
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book