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Jamie Francis is lonely. After her parents’ divorce, she and her mother move to a small town in Nova Scotia, and she’s finding it hard to make new friends. One afternoon, as she rides her bicycle along a country road, she discovers a neglected horse in a field. It’s a beautiful palomino whom Jamie dubs “Peach” and soon she is visiting the horse regularly, grooming her and bringing her treats. When she meets the horse’s owner, she learns that Peach is being sold to Tamarack Stables, a local riding school, and Jamie follows her there, reluctant to lose her new friend. The stables are run by an abrupt, demanding woman named Val, helped by her two teenage sons, Paul, who is handsome, and Nick, who is fun. Jamie works babysitting jobs to help pay for riding lessons, and soon she is spending all her time there, grooming horses, cleaning out stalls, and learning to ride.
Touch of Gold by Vivien Gorham is a heartwarming story of a girl and a horse, with enough horsey detail and small dramas to satisfy horse-loving readers. Jamie is a shy, insecure heroine who finds courage and determination through her passion for horses and riding. Her attempts to make friends with humans are not as successful as her overtures to horses, but she perseveres and by the end of the book she forms some strong attachments and gains a sense of belonging.
Children entering the uneasy social scene of early teens will find Jamie’s challenges easy to relate to. Although the story is a mite slow at the beginning, it picks up and moves along to an exciting finish.
Touch of Gold
by Vivien Gorham
$12.95, paperback, 224 pp.
Nimbus Publishing, September, 2015