I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade
Diane Lee Wilson
Orchard Books, 1998. 232 pgs. YA
Oyuna, while a toddler, had her foot crushed by a horse. In superstitious 14th century Mongolia that was a sign she was cursed by bad luck. It also meant she had been chosen by a horse. Drawn to the world of the horse, Oyuna feels strong and free from the life as a cripple whenever she rides. Her dream is to win the big race so she can return honor to her family. Her shaman grandmother foretells her success but she must "make her own luck" to succeed. The adventurous journey to the realization of her dream begins when her father allows her to pick any horse at the horse fair. Her choice of an old lame white mare dismays her father but Oyuna immediately forms a unique bond with the mare.
Oyuna is a strong positive female character who has the best intent in her heart but struggles with Mongolian traditions and her own bad luck. Her courage to persevere and love for her beloved horse, cat, and dream of honor never waver. If you love HORSES (lots of them), a smidgen of ROMANCE (arranged marriage or??) and ADVENTURE (riding in Kublai Khan's army disguised as a boy then riding across the Gobi desert as a talisman knowing death is the punishment for getting caught plus the terrifying experience of meeting Kublai Khan), this clean, extremely easy to read, coming of age novel is for you. mpb