Last year, I read Emily Williams’ debut novel, Letters to Eloise and it became one of my best reads of 2017. She contacted me a couple of weeks ago, asking whether I could read her new novel that’s coming out on February 14th 2018 and I jumped at the chance. I was so excited that I emailed her back straight away saying ‘yes’, and as soon as Williams had sent me the book, I started to read…
Rafferty Lincoln doesn’t like horses. Not one bit. But when the popular high school girl of his dreams, Liberty Ashburn pulls him into a world of lead ropes and horse brushes, who is he to say no?
Except this isn’t any old horse. This is the missing racehorse, Profit’s Red Ridge. The horse Rafferty and three of his friends are hiding from the world. And Liberty Ashburn isn’t just any ordinary high school girl. How far will Rafferty go to win her over?
The first thing that I’m going to say about this book is that it’s not as good as Letter to Eloise BUT it’s still a very very good novel. Rafferty Lincoln Loves… is aimed more at a young adult audience whereas Letters to Eloise was aimed at a more adult audience. However, the one thing that is similar between both novels is that Williams really knows how to punch your gut with emotions. As LTE, this novel really played with emotions when it came to the characters, especially Rafferty and Liberty. At first, I loved them, then I hated them, then loved them again… It was a see-saw of emotions. All of the characters with RLL were deeply flawed which made me connect with them on a huge level. I hate it when YA characters don’t have any flaws because c’mon, there is not one single individual on this entire planet that does not have any flaws. Rafferty and Liberty messed up. A LOT. And at times, Rafferty and Lincoln could just be plain horrible with how they treat each other, especially when they start rumours about each other and spread them around the school. I really really hated them for that, but at the end of the day, even though it’s horrible to admit, that DOES happen in reality in high school. Which is a shame but Williams knows how to capture the reality of young adulthood in her novels.
I also loved that the underlying storyline of this book was about horses. Now, I’m not a big fan of horses, but I can appreciate them and it was a different plot to read about than normal YA novels. Sure, RLL still had the same YA themes running throughout (coming of age, realising who you are as a person, working through personal troubles), but no matter how little or well the characters got on with each other, they always pulled together to look after Minty, the horse.
One of my favourite characters in this book was Dexter. I loved how sweet he was with Minty, I loved how he would always try and sort out any crinkles in the friendship group and be (sometimes) be the mediator in arguments, and I just loved how brave he was. It was so sad to see him go through all of the trouble at high school and my heart just bled for him. He was such an innocent human being that I wanted to give a massive hug and just protect from the cruelty of the world. Alas, that’s not possible. Also, it wasn’t clearly stated in the novel, but I had the feeling that there were some feelings between Will and Dexter? I don’t know if anyone else got this impression, but it was definitely there for me when I read it.
Overall, this was a fantastic second novel from Williams. Even though I had a bit of a hit-and-miss relationship with Rafferty and Liberty, I still enjoyed reading their story. Williams just proves that she is an incredible writer that can seam together different characters lives and teenage problems brilliantly. Her writing keeps improving and I cannot wait to read more of her work!
If you love YA, then you NEED to give Raffety Lincoln Loves… a read!