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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
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Review: Finding Somewhere

Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House. 2011. Reviewed from copy from publisher.

The Plot: Two girls, a horse, and the open road. The horse is old and it’s owners want to put it out down. Hattie, sixteen, wants to give Speed, a work horse all his life, a chance to “be a horse,” to live his last days as a free horse on the open range. Delores, eighteen, is happy for an excuse to leave home. Together, they hope to find — somewhere.

The Good: Oh, the writing! Hattie is telling the story: “My note didn’t include a whole catalog of things. I didn’t say, for instance, that I hoped to let Speed be a horse for once. That I took Speed so that he could have a chance to live, and prairie for a season, one fall, and that I’d love him and protect him.” Of course, Hattie is talking as much about herself and Delores as she is about Speed. Hattie and Delores tell each other, “we’re women going west.” They are women, making a choice, going.

At sixteen and eighteen, there are, of course, parents who are less than thrilled about their leaving, even if Hattie and Delores say they’ll return. Family that, almost, notices them more when they are gone then when they are there.

I love a good road trip novel: and this delivers, as the three make their way from New Hampshire to New York State and Indiana and beyond. Looking for somewhere for Speed. Looking, of course, for themselves. You know what else I like? There are no artificial love triangles; there is a romance, organic to the story, but there is no conflict just to have a conflict.

Another thing: two teenage girls go on a road trip, and there is no text or subtext that this is something dangerous that girls shouldn’t do; that the girls need to do x, y, or z to ward off dangers, as if it’s the responsibility of the girls not to be victims. When I got to the end of Finding Somewhere and realized this — that Hattie and Delores are not victims, are never victims, are not victimized to make a point or to show their power, I was overjoyed. It may be silly to be happy about what a book is not, but there it is — this is about two girls who are strong and funny and beautiful. And they are that way from start to finish.

Hattie and Delores both love horses, have grown up around horses, taking care of them and riding them, so for those readers who love horses, this is a book they will love and appreciate. Hattie and Delores are the type of girls who love horses, yes, but not the rich girls who love horses: rather, the girls who muck out the stalls of those who can afford to own the horses to be near the horses they love. They are workers, working class girls who met and became friends in a GED class, and I mention it because such teens are not usually found in teen books, especially not teen books that are primarily about friendship, freedom, love and a road trip.

One last quote, to show you why I so love the writing: “She had good lines around her eyes. Happy lines. She had the ghost of a long laugh in her face.”

As an FYI, what brought this to the top of my TBR pile was my friend Carlie suggesting it to me, and then getting a review copy from the publisher. Carlie works at the agent who represents the author.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. I had this checked out, but decided not to read it. When I brought it back to the library, the beginning caught my eye, and then I read something about it online. I decided to keep it checked out. After reading this, I will probably put it higher in the pile. (Finnikin of the Rock is next — Thanks to you.)

  2. Sondy, looking forward to what you think about this and Finnikin. Two very different books, but both wonderful!