Topanga Canyon: Fire Season
by Barbara Bryan
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Pub Date 21 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 23 May 2023
Matt, a teenage boy from Chicago, is exiled to his grandfather's horse ranch in Topanga, California by his alcoholic mother. There, he must learn to adapt to an alien lifestyle filled with strangers and animals he finds terrifying.
As Matt's new life unfolds and his love for horses grows, he realizes that his grandfather is in danger of losing his beloved ranch due to outstanding debts. Desperate to keep the ranch, his grandfather leases out one of the barns to an unscrupulous horse trainer named Robert Sinclair.
Matt soon witnesses the antiquated and brutal methods of training Sinclair uses on his Tennessee Walking Horses. Confronted by an unwillingness by everyone at the ranch to oppose Sinclair and his use of horse soring, Matt searches for a way to make the outside world aware of the horse's needless torture. With the help of his friend Ariel, they devise a plan to expose Sinclair and his brutal methods. But will the fury of the yearly Santa Ana winds ignite a devastating fire and give Sinclair his chance for revenge?
Topanga Canyon: Fire Season by Barbara Bryan weaves a tale that reignites the essential truth that we all intrinsically possess the courage to face the myriad of challenges in today's world and restores the knowledge that, through us, change is possible.
A Note From the Publisher
Barbara's love and respect for horses only intensified when she encountered the horrid practice of soring on Tennessee Walking Horses.
During the Covid Lockdown, Barbara decided to use the time by writing a book that would shine a light on soring through the adventures of Matt and Ariel in Topanga Canyon.
She is part-owner of the Interactive Café in Santa Monica, CA. (Interactive-café.com). She delights in talking about horses, equestrian life, and eradicating the practice of soring. Please stop in and share your knowledge and stories. Show her a picture of your horse, and coffee is on the house. Learn more at bbryanwrites.com.
"In Bryan’s debut YA novel, a teenage boy adjusts to life on his grandfather’s ranch and takes a stand against animal cruelty...A gentle and compelling coming-of-age story." Kirkus
"Book clubs and discussion groups will want to take a look. Compulsively readable and brilliant." BookView Review
"The story of finding where you belong and struggling to do what is right are themes that this age group often encounters. I recommend this book to young adults, horse lovers, or anyone looking to enjoy a good read" Literary Titan
"Libraries seeking crossover titles capable of reaching from young adult to adult audiences will find Topanga Canyon: Fire Season a rich blend of insights that lend to thought-provoking reading, book club discussion, and leisure enjoyment alike." Midwest Book Review
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Average rating from 3 members
With his phone dead, unable to call his mother, fifteen-year-old Matt arrives at the bus terminal in Los Angeles, where he has been sent, by his mother, who told him his grandpa was sick and needed help. The bus ride from Chicago was long, and Matt is hungry and wet, standing in the rain waiting for his grandfather to pick him up. A truck with the emblem of his grandpa’s ranch pulls up, however it is one of the ranch employees at the wheel.
Matt’s grandpa, Silas, was not aware Matt was arriving until that very day, and he already has two guests in his home, so Matt was sent out to bunkhouse with another of the ranch hands. It also appears his grandpa is not sick and has plenty of help. Matt is disappointed to learn there is no cell service on the ranch and feels if only he can reach his mother, she will realize this impromptu visit is a big mistake. His mother, however, is happy to be relieved of the responsibility of a child so she and her boyfriend can pursue their own interests.
Matt is given chores to do each day and adjusts to life on the ranch. Esmerelda, who prepares all the meals takes a special interest in him and he makes friends with other employees as well. He even develops a relationship with a couple of the horses. When Matt becomes aware of a dangerous and abusive situations regarding the welfare of some of the the horses that that are boarded at the ranch, he finally confides in a trusted acquaintance. As a result, his own life is in jeopardy when the fierce and powerful Santa Ana winds result in huge fires spreading across Southern California.
This fascinating story has many twists and turns, well developed, strong characters and addresses a serious, deliberate infliction of pain on the legs of horses called soring. I practically read this intriguing story straight though until the last page was turned.
Thank you to NetGalley Atmosphere Press for a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
What a tender and heartbreaking story of coming of age!
I couldn't put this book down it was so very good!
I was happy to see that this was also about horses! My favorite animals in the whole world!
I've loved horses since I was a girl, and it hasn't changed a bit. I still love and enjoy riding them when I can.
I loved these well rounded out characters, especially Matt.
He is special bc he worked really hard at overcoming the sad things his journey in life threw at him.
I kept rooting for him throughout the whole story.
I also learned many new things in horse terms that 4-H didn't teach me.
This story will keep you turning the pages to see what happens along the way. I wasn't one bit disappointed.
I hope this new to me author writes more . I love her style of writing and making this story so realistic that a reader can get lost in it from the beginning.
It's a different sort of quote, but I wanted to write it down anyway.
"Why baby, an artist is closest to his muse after midnight.” Then, after a little girl giggle, “And if the muse is not around, a little bit of booze always helps the creative juices flow.”
This book talks about a few hard subjects and alcoholism is one, so I think this quote is perfect.
5 stars for a job well done! I highly recommend it!
My thanks for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Topanga Canyon: Fire Season by Barbara Bryan is a poignant and compelling novel that explores the coming of age of a teenage boy, Matt, who is exiled to his grandfather's horse ranch in California. Matt must adapt to a new lifestyle, one filled with strangers and animals that terrify him. However, as he grows to love the horses and his new home, he realizes that his grandfather is in danger of losing the ranch due to outstanding debts.
Bryan skillfully weaves a tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, with suspense and drama right from the start. The characters are well-rounded and fleshed out, and Matt's emotional journey is tender and heart-wrenching.
The novel also addresses the issue of soring, a cruel and inhumane practice used to train Tennessee Walking Horses, and the unwillingness of many to stand up against it. Bryan's portrayal of this issue is both eye-opening and thought-provoking.
Overall, Topanga Canyon: Fire Season is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of courage, resilience, and the power of standing up against injustice. It is a must-read for anyone who loves a page-turner with heart and depth.
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