The Horse in My Heart is a re-working of an earlier story, Transitions. It is the bestselling of all Jane Ayres’ books, and I can see why. The Horse in My Heart is a bittersweet, and involving, story of two girls overcoming adversity. What Fiona needs to overcome is her fear of riding, and in particular jumping, but what Elizabeth has to face is something far beyond Annie’s experience: Elizabeth is dying. They meet because Annie wants to buy a horse, and goes to see Elizabeth’s beloved Rocket, whom she wants to settle with a new rider before she dies. Elizabeth’s the only one who’s ever ridden Rocket, and Fiona’s first ride is not a success. Nevertheless, there’s something about the horse, and his owner, that creeps under her skin, and she agrees to at least give it a go, with Elizabeth there to teach her.
This is a difficult topic that could very easily have tipped over into the mawkish, or sentimental, but doesn’t. It’s sad in parts, certainly, but although this may seem an odd thing to say in a book where one of the characters dies, it is a book full of life and its unexpected challenges. Annie’s struggle with Rocket, and her own feelings, is convincing, and Elizabeth is very far from being a death’s head, stalking the book.
The Horse in My Heart is a clear-eyed and positive look at death and what it’s like to leave life.
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Jane Ayres: The Horse in My Heart
Available as an ebook
Kindle - £1.94
Kindle - £1.94
Age of main character: 15(?)
Themes: death, chemotherapy
Jane Ayres' blog
Jane Ayres on my website: full illustrated bibliography