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My Friend Flicka Part 1 by Mary O'Hara: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: My Friend Flicka Part 1

Author: Mary O’Hara

Publisher: JB Lippincott Company

Format: print, audiobook

Genre: Vintage Children’s Books, Pony Books

Publication Date: 1941

Star Rating: 5/5


I love reading pony stories from other countries. They have such a different feel to British ones.


My Friend Flicka Part 1 by Mary O’Hara is the first story featuring Ken McLaughlin and the Goose Bar Ranch in Wyoming where he lives.


Mary O’Hara led such an interesting life that I hardly know where to begin!


She wrote the screenplay for silent films such as The Prisoner of Zenda. Then when she married for the second time, she and her husband bought a ranch in Wyoming and moved there in 1930.


The inspiration for her writing stories such as My Friend Flicka Part 1 and its sequels arose very directly from her life on the ranch.


I was deeply touched to know that her son was nicknamed Ken, and that she had had a daughter who had died while still a teenager.


After I had researched Mary O’Hara’s life, I realised what a glimpse into her life her writing was.


Ken is ten when the story of My Friend Flicka Part 1 opens. His older brother Howard is annoyingly perfect and seems to have no trouble earning the respect of their father Rob.


Ken yearns for his father’s acceptance and affirmation, but dreams away every opportunity he is given.


His mother Nell insists that her husband lets Ken have a colt to train, just as Howard was given one a few years earlier.


Howard has made a success of training Highboy, and Nell feels that Ken must be given a chance to do something he cares about well so that he can gain in confidence.


Rob is pretty strict with the boys. Ken is young to be away at boarding school and is often asked to do tasks that an older boy would find easier.


However, the Goose Bar Ranch is in a precarious financial situation and everyone must pull their weight.


Ken is given a free choice of the young horses. He decides to have a yearling because he wants to be able to ride the horse more quickly than a spring colt.


There are quite a few colts to choose from, but the choice is made for Ken when he spots Rocket’s yearling and decides to call her Flicka.


The name Flicka is Swedish for little girl. Mary O’Hara’s second husband was Swedish, but in the book the name Flicka is suggested to Ken by a ranch hand called Gus.


I love My Friend Flicka Part 1. It is a searingly honest and open portrait of the challenges of growing up in a tough physical environment.


I root for Ken every time I re-read this book. He is so vulnerable and young when the series opens.


Over the next books he grows up and even falls in love. But for now, Ken is still a young lad who can only think of the yearling he is determined to train and ride: if he can catch Flicka, that is.


Thank you for reading my review.


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