Mending Horses, the sequel to M. P. Barker’s 2008 release A Difficult Boy, reunites readers with Daniel Linnehan, an Irish teenager transplanted across the sea to New England. Finally freed from indentured service, Daniel attempts to make his way in the world with nothing but his indenture papers and his beloved horse Ivy. However, he soon finds himself making unlikely alliances among the performers in a travelling circus, where he puts his equestrian skills to use training a team of skittish prancing ponies.
My experience with this book was undermined by having skipped its predecessor – definitely try to read A Difficult Boy before diving into this sequel! Plot-wise, there is a lot going on, and despite the fact that the book was written for readers ages 8 to 14, I felt that my unfamiliarity with Daniel’s history made Mending Horses difficult to get into. That being said, I truly appreciated Barker’s attention to detail and vested interest in historical accuracy. Billy’s story in particular struck a chord with me and added a nice balance to a heavily masculine narrative.