Wow! This was a great book! “Riding Freedom” was an empowering read with my oldest daughter about the life of Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst (1812-1879), aka One-Eyed Charley and Six-Horse Charley. The novel is a dramatization of Charlotte’s life, so technically it is not “nonfiction,” but Pam Muñoz Ryan did thoroughly research her life and history.
Charlotte grew up in an orphanage after both of her parents died. At the age of 12, Parkhurst ran away in search of a new life. She cuts her hair pretending to be a boy in her escape. She has a love of horses and begins sleeping in a stable while she looks for a new place to live. When she is discovered, Ebeneezer Balch finds that she can tend chores in the stable in exchange for a place to sleep and some food. Balch, however, doesn’t realize the stable boy he’s harboring is actually a girl.
I love Ms. Ryan’s other children books. I enjoyed both “Echo” and “Esperanza Rising,” but I think this was even more memorable as I read it with my own daughter. It was a very insightful story and something that I think would be a hit with audiences if it were ever dramatized in a movie or television format.
This was a great read!