Crystal Publishing, 221 pages, (paperback) $12.95, 978-1-942624-58-5
(Reviewed: July 2019)
In Cathy Ringler's wonderful middle-grade book, a 14-year-old girl struggles with her weight, school bullies, and a stubborn horse.
Equestrian Miya Skippingbird dreams of buying the perfect horse so she might win a barrel race and be respected by her peers. But Miya's ranch family is poor, so her father buys her the affordable “Dream,” a stubborn, bucking, overweight horse. Despite Miya’s frustration, her childhood friend and long-time crush, handsome bull-rider Jake Runningdeer, encourages Miya to persevere and train her.
Meanwhile, Miya struggles with her longtime friendship with Lily. After Lily joins in the heartless teasing of new student Abigail, Miya befriends Abigail and guiltily avoids Lily. Soon, the two friends split, with Lily aligning herself with two mean girls and joining in relentlessly teasing Miya about her weight and other issues.
As the story evolves, Miya pursues her dream of racing through ups and downs, helps Lily out of an embarrassing situation and enjoys a growing relationship with Jake.
Ringler's characters are wonderfully complex. For example, despite Lily’s cruelty to Miya, she’s ultimately a sympathetic character, struggling with her parents’ divorce and stung by Miya's dismissal of her—even starting to cry when she asks Miya why she "ditched" her. Throughout, Ringler deliver's "spot on" teenage dialogue. After Jake tells Miya his smoothie has kale and flax in it, Miya recoils: “Kale? Are you kidding me? Why would anyone drink that stuff? You used to be the Pop-Tart king!"
Additionally, the narrative is beautifully crafted, with lyrical, evocative passages as in: “The breeze rustled the sagebrush. Brown sparrows darted in and out of the barn, beaks filled with dry grass and twigs. Miya stared at the black spot on Dream's neck. She felt lighter, like springtime.”
Ringler has painted a lovely, detailed, sometimes heartbreaking portrait of a sensitive teenage girl as she deals with insecurity, embarrassment, failure—and hope and success. Miya's Dream will easily come in first place for its readers.
Miya's Dream is one of those books that stays with you long after you read it. The characters are so real that they come to mind like old friends-I find myself wondering what they are doing now. Miya's struggles are real issues that our children face every day-body image and bullying. Her struggles to do what is right are highly motivational-you will root for her to make the right decision and wish for everyone around her to make it easier. I have recommended this book to several friends.
Jennisen Lucas-District Librarian for Cody Public Schools
Miya's Dream is a must read for families. Both of my daughters have felt like Miya at one time or another. We have had many great discussions about the issues Miya faced, including bullying, weight, "grit", standing up for others and being grateful for what we have.
Melisa Gernhart- 2nd Grade Teacher and Rodeo Mom
Miya's Dream is a fantastic read for any young horse lover! I couldn't put it down once I started reading. It took me back to my childhood where I read every horse story I could get my hands on. This book would have been right up my alley-a great story about a girl, the horse that ends up winning her heart, and some remarkable friendships along the way. This book teaches a lot about horses, and some great life lessons for kids as well.
Alison Whisler- Owner Whisler Equine Facility, PATH Certified
Middle Grade is a struggle. Miya's Dream describes what my daughter has experienced both at school and in barrel racing.
Julie Linebaugh- Owner Silver Spur Arena and Barrel Racer
Miya's Dream- A story of three barrels, two hearts and one big dream!