I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade Review

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Bookworm is studying the Eastern Hemisphere for history and literature.  This is BookShark’s Level 5, the equivalent to Sonlight’s Core F.  The books  in this level are different from the typical BookShark/Sonlight book choices in other levels.

I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson is an example of this.

The story is set in the 1200s.  Oyuna is a young, 12 year old girl who has a bad leg because a horse stepped on it when she was young.  She lives with her mother and father and travels the Mongolian steppes with her tribe.  Thanks to her injury, she is considered bad luck and must spend most of her time inside sewing and cooking.

Tragedy strikes Oyuna and her father when Oyuna’s mother is struck by lightning and dies.  Her father remarries fairly quickly, and the new wife brings two sons with her.  Oyuna’s father has decided that Oyuna is old enough to marry and begins to search for her husband, which isn’t easy considering her leg.

At a festival, Oyuna’s father searches in vain for a mate for her.  He also promises her a horse of her choosing; she chooses an older horse with a bad leg that she names Bayan.

Oyuna has a special gift–she can hear Bayan talking to her.  Her attachment to the horse is very deep.

One day Kublai Khan’s soldiers rush into the tribes camp and demand all of the available men and their horses.  To Oyuna’s dismay, Bayan is rounded up, and her stepbrother is told that he must join the army.  Oyuna refuses to give up Bayan, so she chops off her hair and takes her stepbrother’s place.  Of course, her adventure is just beginning.

What I Thought Of This Book

I should say upfront that Bookworm will read most books happily, but he really didn’t like this one.  After a few days of his protesting, I finally gave him a pass on this book and finished reading it myself because I enjoyed it.

Having said that, the book is a bit odd at times.  The customs are so different from ours that they’re sometimes hard to understand.  For instance, after Oyuna’s mother dies, she and her father must be at the back of the caravan for the next three months.  No one dares to hug them or touch them because they are unclean thanks to Oyuna’s mother’s death.

The idea of a 12 year old being at her marital prime was also odd.

Despite the cultural and historical difference, this book was a very good read.

4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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