Thief of Happy Endings by Kristen Chandler (Review)

It's been a while since I've read a book with horses. I really enjoyed
how much they were a part of this one. Read my full review below...

Thief of Happy Endings
By Kristen Chandler
YA Contemporary
Hardcover & ebook, 416 Pages
June 19th 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers


Sarah Dessen meets the Wild West in this tale of wild mustangs, irresistible wranglers, and the first rule of horses: if you get bucked off, you have to get back on.

Cassidy Carrigan wasn't planning to ever get on a horse again. She wasn't even planning on going to back to school after her dad moved out, her best friend ditched her, and her anxiety took over. But then she wasn't planning on being shipped off to a ranch in the mountains of Wyoming as a charity case either. Or falling for a cowboy with a broken nose and an even more broken soul. But sometimes you just have to do a stupid, dangerous thing to have the time of your life.

Set in the wild, beautiful west, here is a story about fear and failure and falling in love when the odds are against you. Alternatingly heart-stopping and heart-breaking, The Thief of Happy Endings is a story that will stay with you, like a summer you'll never forget.

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My Review

THIEF OF HAPPY ENDINGS is a bittersweet story about a girl whose life is falling apart and who is lost, but through a summer on a ranch where horses are used to heal and trained to sale, she finds herself again, or at least a new self. The story challenges the reader to think as the characters work through their different issues, and as the town struggles to find a way to find peace with the mustangs. An overall heartfelt story for contemporary YA readers.

These characters were so complex and felt authentic. There is just a whole lot going on and they all have different reasons for being at the horse ranch. Almost every single one of them have a soft spot and a lot of rough edges. I really liked Justin from the first moment he appears in the story. He is one tough kid, but also sweet and such a good guy. Cassidy I liked a lot, but also had some issues with. I wanted her to not be so easily affected by Banner and other things so much. I also wanted her to handle some things, including some things with Justin, better. At least she does get it together eventually. I generally liked all the other characters except Banner, which I'm sure was intended.

I felt like the story moved at a steady pace. There were different pieces that came together to drive the story forward. The horses were beautiful. This was probably one of my favorite aspects of the story. I loved how Cassidy particularly connects with them. The situation with the Mustangs is a seriously heartbreaking one. I also thought the romance was really sweet. It was definitely a slow build, which is my favorite way for it to be. I thought it was good that it didn't overtake the story. There was so much camaraderie and humor. Many places I couldn't help but smile. I loved all the little nuggets of wisdom throughout as well. There was some intensity, particularly towards the end. I appreciated that the author didn't tie everything up in a perfect package, but left things a little bittersweet.

Here's a favorite part from the book:
But the space between what I thought happiness looks like and all the things I didn't want to happen is the space where I found a new happiness, and a new me. I can't make my parents stay married, or let all mustangs go free, but I can make something brilliant with the way things are. That's not lowered expectations, it's braver ones.

There were a few issues I had with the story. The characters felt a little inconsistent. One example was Coulter who runs the ranch and seemed angry at her or her grandfather and then isn't or it wasn't anger... just hard to tell and didn't all match up, particularly when more is known. I also didn't like how it seemed like one of the characters, Banner, who everyone knows is mean seems to get away with everything and Cassidy seemed to always take the blame. It just didn't make sense with other things that happened. There was also some serious drama, some of which included people from town. And then the content could have been cleaner, even though it did fit the characters and story.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I enjoyed this story. I loved the Mustangs and how they were such a big part of this story and how the characters connected with them to work through their problems. The ending was bittersweet, but perfectly so.

Content: Some swearing, innuendo, and violence.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

About the Author

I was such a storyteller as a small child, my parents sent me outside to play so they could get things done. It didn’t stop me from telling stories, but it changed the kind of stories I told.

For most of my life my family lived in a small college town in the American West, so my parents felt like they owed it to their sheltered children to drive on every backroad between San Diego and Banff. That’s an exaggeration, but I saw a lot of sagebrush as a kid. As a teen, I started to write. I had a journal, where I mused about boys and the meaning of life. I wrote stories, poems, articles and even lyrics. Super dreadful lyrics. By the time I went to college I was sure I was on my way to being a female Fitzgerald.

What I became, was a woman with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, who taught college writing classes, and chased her questionably-behaved children. The road was fun! I traveled, lived different places, and met cool people. Then I hit a few bumps in the road. Bumps that sat me down. And I started thinking about the meaning of life again.

What I learned in the years after that, was how to go after what I want. And I wanted to write novels for young adults. Because kids ask all the important, hard, scary questions and wear their answers like scars of pride. So now I have this bonkers life I share with my blended family of eight children, two dogs, a mutant cat and a husband I’m wildly in love with. I still tell stories about playing outside and boys and the meaning of life. But the incredible thing is, I get to share them with you.

Have you read this one yet or will you be?

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