This adventure book in the "Circle C Adventures" series by Susan K. Marlow is published by Kregel Publications.
Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home is written for kids ages 9 to 11. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
At Circle C Ranch, Andrea (Andi) Carter gets into all sorts of scrapes — releasing a spider collection in her sister's room, forgetting to water the horses, riding instead of mucking the stalls and approaching a horse that is off limits. Andi overhears her older brother talking to their mom about sending her to an aunt's house for a while, so she decides to run away. A man knocks Andi off her horse, steals it and leaves her unconscious. A Mexican family rescues her. Andi won't return home until she finds her horse, so she works alongside her new protectors, the Garduno family, who travel from town to town. Andi becomes accustomed to manual labor and realizes how fortunate she was at home. The Garduno family finds work at a wealthy ranch owner's homestead, and Andi is assigned to work as a personal assistant to a spoiled and headstrong young girl her own age, Felicity. Since Felicity lost her mother, her father indulges her. Felicity's father gave Andi's horse to his daughter, and Andi is appalled by the harsh treatment given to the animal. Andi rides away on the animal only to be brought back by the ranch hands. Felicity uses a whip on the animal, and Andi gets in the way. Felicity's father locks Andi in a room until her scars heal. Unknown to him, Felicity kidnaps Andi with the help of a ranch hand and tries to get Andi to sign away ownership of the horse. When Andi's family shows up at the ranch looking for their daughter, Andi decides that the horse and her pride are not as valuable as her family. She signs away her beloved horse to Felicity. Once reunited, her family finds a loophole in the signed contract, and they all return to the ranch, horse in tow. The Garduno family appears at the ranch to check on Andi, and they are given jobs on the Circle C Ranch.
When Andi is cared for by the Garduno family, she talks to them about finding her horse and returning home as a “prodigal son.” Andi also prays and asks the Lord to help her find her horse. As she spends more time away from home, she becomes more desperate to confess her sin in running away and cries out to God in prayer. She comes to the realization that with or without her horse, she needs to return to her family. The Garduno family is a Catholic family who prays and upholds Catholic traditions. One of the daughters holds a crucifix and prays. The family also prays for Andi to have God go with her.
As the daughter of a single mother with several sons, Andrea Carter is the youngest and has been spoiled. She is forgetful of her responsibilities, and her oldest brother punishes her by having her muck the horses' stalls. In a careless moment, she tries to befriend a horse she is forbidden to go near and comes close to being trampled to death. Severely scolded by her oldest brother, she runs away and takes her horse with her.
Other Belief Systems
No profanity. Violence is only present in the whipping of the horse and then Andi when she stands between the whip and her horse. It is not graphically described.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- How did Andi's pride keep her from good things?
Did her pride play a part in why she left her family's ranch?
- How was running away a good or poor choice?
How did running away solve or not solve her problems?
- Why should or shouldn't Andi have stolen back her own horse?
- How could she have handled the situation more appropriately?
- In what ways did her disobedience cause more trouble?
- How could the story have ended differently had Andi not been found by her family?
- In what ways did you see God's hand of protection on Andi during her time away from her home?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.