Thursday, April 28, 2011

Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby

Another Kind of CowboyAnother Kind of Cowboy 
Susan Juby

For both Alex and Cleo, dressage represents a chance for escape.  When Alex changes into his riding pants and dances his horse out into the ring, he can leave behind the macho cowboy image-and his father's expectations that go with it.  Meanwhile, for Cleo, dressage seems to be an opportunity to start over at a new school-and maybe to find love again.  But Alex and Cleo both have secrets and it will be a rough ride that will either end in true friendship or deep hatred.  

Another Kind of Cowboy is an enjoyable story set an interesting world: the world of competitive riding.  The story is told by Alex and Cleo in alternating chapters and follows their bumpy journeys to self-acceptance and adulthood.  

The novel is full of quirky and generally likable characters and the two protagonists act as interesting contrasts to each other in terms of personality and situation.  However, some of the characters, although fun, remain a little flat; Alex's martial arts loving twin sisters are a good example.  They're funny but sometimes feel a little too much like a sitcom gag.  Additionally I found the protagonists to be a little uneven.  While I immediately loved Alex, I found it much more difficult to feel sympathetic for the spoiled Cleo.  

However, it's always refreshing to find a novel with LGBTQ characters that works the discovery or exploration of that identity into a larger story; certainly the story is about Alex coming to terms with his sexuality but it is not only about his sexuality.  Also, I really liked being immersed in the exciting but, to me, foreign world of competitive riding; this aspect might open the book's appeal to teen riders who would likely enjoy seeing their passion reflected in a story.  

2.5/5 STARS   

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