Today Marshmallow reviews Paint the Wind, a 2007 novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about horses and family, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Maya has been living in Southern California with her paternal grandmother Agnes Menetti since her parents’ death. Maya doesn’t remember too much about her parents, especially her mother Ellie. But she does know that her grandmother hated her mother and that she blamed her for the death of Maya’s dad. Agnes has destroyed everything about Ellie, cutting her out of pictures and throwing away her belongings. The only thing in the house remaining which belonged to Ellie are her toy horses, and only because Maya has kept them a secret.
Maya’s grandmother Agnes likes to control everything: people, things, lives. For example she has never had a housekeeper for very long because she’s always been dissatisfied; she believes everything in the house must be kept a certain way and it is hard for people to live up to her expectations. Of course it’s not always the housekeepers’ fault. Maya seems to have a habit of sabotaging the housekeepers’ jobs. For example one time Maya put a blue sweater in the white laundry to get one of the housekeepers fired.
Maya also has a habit of lying. When the new housekeeper discovers her playing with the toy horses, she lies about how her parents died and why she’s hiding the horses. But the housekeeper tells the grandmother anyways. So Maya sabotages her job, too. After that housekeeper is fired and a new one is hired, Agnes starts acting differently and showing signs of memory loss. Eventually, one morning, she collapses into her breakfast, and soon we learn that she has passed away from a stroke.
Afterwards, Maya is sent off to live with her mother’s family. Her mother‘s family lives in the open fields in Wyoming and rides horses. Maya has never met these people before except for when she was a baby and so she’s very nervous. Living with her new family will lead to some changes. She will have to adapt to survive.
A second thread of the book develops around a wild horse named Artemisia. Several chapters, including the first one, have the reader follow Artemisia and the other mustangs as they go through their lives in the wilderness of Wyoming.
As you can expect, the two storylines eventually do merge together and we see Maya and Artemisia forge a strong bond. But not all is fun and games. There is serious trouble ahead.
Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Paint the Wind is a neat book. The plot line is very intriguing and the whole book is overall very informative. I learned a lot of new things about horses which I didn’t know before. I can see how this would be a great book for bunnies who love horses. I am not especially interested in horses, not more than any other four-legged creature, but I too found the book compelling.
I also found the characters interesting and unique. Though Maya starts out as a lying and inconsiderate person, the book does show us how she transforms into a person who cares about people and living creatures other than herself.
I found the repeated theme about ghost horses interesting: Maya remembers a story about them told by her mom Ellie, and this comes up a few times throughout the book. However I was a little confused about the ending. I wanted to know more about the ghost horses.
The author Pam Muñoz Ryan also wrote Esperanza Rising, which I recently reviewed. The two books have a similar writing style, and they both involve a young girl being forced to leave the life she was used to, though the plots and the characters are very different. I do have to admit that I found Esperanza Rising a lot more touching.
Marshmallow’s rating: 90%.