Book Review: Selah’s Sweet Dream

A youth novel with many twists and turns!

Photo by Lorraine Jackson

Photo by Lorraine Jackson

Title: Selah’s Sweet Dream
Author: Susan Count
Pages: 181
Available for Purchase on Amazon in paperback or e-book

Selah is the archetype precocious 12-year-old we all once were: Horse crazy, animal-loving, spirited and determined. She lives the dream each summer when she goes to stay with her grandfather at his Texas farm, except for one important element: He won’t let her get a horse. Frankly, this seems like a pretty reasonable refusal if she’s only there for a few weeks each summer, but reason and logic are almost always the last things on our mind when we want a horse.

It soon alludes to Grandpa having more complicated reasons for not wanting horses on the farm, as they remind him of his late wife, a gifted dressage rider and championship reiner in her hay-day.

But fate intervenes when Selah discovers a loose horse wandering in the grasslands beyond her property, and it becomes her obsessive mission to rescue the horse and keep it as her own.

Without spoiling too much of the many ups and downs of the young girl’s journey, it turns out that Selah, her grandfather, and the black mare have a much more intertwined story than anyone could have imagined, and Selah is determined to use the fore-ordained miracle in their past to make the mare hers for good.

Count’s writing is both vivid and sweet, and the dialogue is perfectly believable. She walks a very precarious road in the novel between indulging in the age-old fantasy of “a special bond between a girl and her wild horse” and trying to infuse realistic challenges and methods of gentling an animal with limited human contact.

There was some confusion with the introduction of a TV Personality trainer intent on helping Selah and ‘Sweet Dream’ to learn together and bond for an episode of his show; I’m sure his character was intended to be dynamic and complex, but mostly I felt unsure if I was supposed to like him or not. Ultimately he seems to have a redemptive experience, and I appreciated the growth of all the characters in the book.

Finally, while I thought it could have safely omitted the anthropomorphic chapter told through Dream’s eyes, (I think introducing the idea of jealousy and love in equine emotions is always a bit dodgy territory for horse crazy children), the book is an endearing read and well-suited to horse crazy children getting into the secondary stage of chapter books.

Go reading, and go riding!

Our congratulations to Susan Count, as ‘Selah’s Sweet Dream’, recently won 1st Place in the 2016 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program for the Best Animal – Children’s/YA category. 

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