review by Susan Salter Reynolds

“Not only horses get broken around here,” writes Lisa Jones, a journalist who was almost devoured by a remarkable assignment on the West. In particular, she is writing of the Wind River Range in Wyoming where her subject, Stanford Addison, lives.

“Everything does, starting with the ground itself. Millions of years ago, a new mountain range broke through the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, leaving the original range’s broken remains leaning against the flanks of the Wind River Range.”

Jones, 42, was sent by Smithsonian magazine to profile Addison, “a quadriplegic Northern Arapaho reputed to be able to talk rank beginners through the process of breaking horses.” Addison, a “bad boy outlaw” into drugs and women and cars and horses, survived a violent accident when he was 20. The broken-down “res ride” he was in collided with horses on the road one night. His spinal cord was cut at neck level. Addison came to in a hospital surrounded by white people and a multitude of visions. His reputation as a spiritual healer grew. After finishing the article, Jones went back to spend five years researching this book. In Addison’s presence, she was broken, found some happiness, was often afraid and more often confused. Regardless of what you choose to believe about her story, doors were opened. Addison and his world, she writes, “were jewels, but dark ones, rich with the blood of people and horses and dogs that died for nothing, for carelessness or a flash of anger or too much drink or no reason at all.” Jones, the self-deprecating journalist (“Why couldn’t I shut up? Why did I get so nervous and yappy?”), locates herself beautifully in a story that is hers and not hers. This is her first book. We look forward to the next.

See LA Times

The Woman’s Day Reading List

“This memoir, by a journalist who went to Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation on assignment and stayed off/on for four years, revolves around Stanford Addison, a wheelchair-bound Native American spiritual healer and horse breaker. Mixed in with his tale are a brief history of the Northern Araphos tribe, the heartbreaking reality of modern reservation life and Lisa Jones’ own journey of personal and spiritual growth. But, more revealing than the author’s insights gained from sweat lodges and the nuggets of wisdom that Addison provides, is the honest range of emotions she is unafraid to acknowledge. From the guilt she feels as a white woman on a reservation to the lust she has for a man that is not her boyfriend, these sentiments she shares show the reader that we are all nothing but our feelings if we cannot understand, and eventually, control them.”– Meghan Ahearn

For their full list of recommended reads, click here.