Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
(Book received free for review from Dundurn Press.)
I had thought Paint would be a "talking animal" story -- a tale told from the animal's point of view. While there were short sections and chapters that were, most of the story was told by and about the humans. And know what? That was perfectly fine. This was one great book!
While the horse named Paint was the thing that tied the story together, the book was more a look at life in the late 1800s in Canada. Paint's mother, a wild mustang, died while giving birth, and the foal was found and raised by a Native American boy. The reader got to experience and learn about life in the Lakota tribe during the period of early contact with Europeans. Then an attack by the army set Paint free, until she was caught by her next owner.
A man who sold buffalo hunting trips (like modern day safaris) used her for a time, and we the readers got to learn about that practice -- who went on such trips, what the results were, etc. When that man retired (buffalo becoming harder and harder to find, and he was quite rich by that time), Paint got sold to English pioneers trying to settle in the Canadian wilds.
While this was a young adult book, it was the kind that an adult could not just absolutely enjoy, but love. I learned so much from this book! To be honest, I don't think about Canada all that much (sorry you northern people on my friends list!), I hadn't ever thought about what life would have been like there in the early days. A book that can offer both a great story and teach me things will always have a place in my heart.
While this was a YA book, the ending was unexpected. [Spoiler for the ending.]It wasn't outright stated, but any adult would be certain that Paint had been killed. Younger readers had room to hope she just left, but there's no way a very old horse could survive outside in a duststorm (storm of the century-level storm) that lasted for a whole day. I loved the ending so much.
The only thing about the book I didn't like, and sadly my last impression of it, was the epilogue. The final 10% of the book was Paint's original owner, now an elderly man, talking to his granddaughter about how badly the Europeans treated his people. True? Yes, for sure. But it felt so heavy-handed and unlike the rest of the book: Just an information dump and very little story.
I'd highly recommend Paint, just skip the epilogue.