A true-life novel about Lily Casey Smith (the author's grandmother) who at age six helped her father break horses, at age fifteen left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother runs a vast ranch in Arizona where she survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy--but despite a life of hardscrabble drudgery still remains a woman of indomitable spirit.
Journalist Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary and their four children lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family. When the money ran out, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town Rex had tried to escape. As the dysfunction escalated, the children had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they found the resources and will to leave home. Yet Walls describes her parents with deep affection in this tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life.--From publisher description.