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Looking for that Girlhood Confidence

The Big Quiet: One Woman’s Horseback Ride Home by Lisa Stewart
The Big Quiet: One Woman’s Horseback Ride Home by Lisa Stewart

I am Tracy Million Simmons, owner of Meadowlark Press, for the High Plains Public Radio summer reading list. As a small regional press specializing in stories from the Midwest, I’d like to take this moment to introduce you to a Meadowlark book. I had the pleasure of working with Lisa Stewart on her first book, a beautiful memoir titled, The Big Quiet: One Woman’s Horseback Ride Home.

At age 54, Lisa Stewart set out to reclaim the fearless girl she once was, riding her horse, Chief, 500 miles. Lisa made the solo horseback ride, trusting strangers along the way to give her a space to camp and shelter for the night. As a rural Kansan who spent many childhood and young adult hours on horseback, I was absolutely fascinated by the premise of this book. To ride across the country, for a horse to be your main mode of transportation—it’s a dream of many riders. I know the days I managed to spend—just from sunup to sundown—on my own horse, still stand out vividly in my memory all these years later. Though I haven’t ridden a horse since my late teens, Lisa’s writing took me back to the saddle again, that slow, rolling gait of a horse’s pace changing the speed of time itself. The peace. The time for reflection. The meditative quality of viewing the road from the pace of a walk.

Reports from readers show similar responses. One reviewer writes: I felt refreshed every time I read a few chapters, as though I was the one who got to spend some quiet time in the country.

But beyond Lisa’s poetic skill in describing the beauty of the roadside, she taught me lessons about forgiveness. Now age 54 myself, I understand that no woman makes it this far without at least a few disappointments. Lisa was looking for that girlhood confidence, that spark we all possess before the world teaches us to be cautious and possibly ashamed.

Kelly Barth, author of My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus, had this to say about the book.

“Lisa Stewart’s The Big Quiet charts a path for all women. It’s a path at once dangerous and thrilling and a path she had started down and backed out of since childhood. The resulting narrative recounts a journey not only to a point on the map but to a whole and liberated self. Stewart is finally free to trust herself and others, to survive by her wits and with the help of kind strangers of which there are still many. This is a delicious fantasy of a journey most of us deny ourselves and one taken on the back of a horse whose simultaneously terrified and fiercely loyal personality unfurls before us as the richest of characters’ personalities do—on the way from Point A to Point B.”

The Big Quiet is available in paperback and hardcover, wherever you buy books. It is available as an eBook on kindle and on audio. Learn more about The Big Quiet and other Meadowlark titles at meadowlark bookstore dot com.

I am Tracy Million Simmons for the High Plains Public Radio Reader’s Book Club’s Summer Reading List.

Tracy Million Simmons
Tracy Million Simmons

Tracy Million Simmons, Owner/Publisher of Meadowlark Press, enjoys reading and writing about the people and places of her home state of Kansas, both real and imagined. She started Meadowlark Press in 2014 with the publication of Green Bike, a group novel, which she co-authored with Kevin Rabas and Michael D. Graves. Since that time, Meadowlark has published more than 70 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, including six Kansas Notable books. Meadowlark titles have been recognized by High Plains Book Awards and Midwest Book Awards. Learn more at meadowlarkbookstore.com.

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