In Taming the Star Runner, Hinton tries a different approach to telling her story: She abandons her first-person narration for a third-person point of view. The intensity which had earlier carried readers along in the voices of Ponyboy Curtis or Tex is replaced by the distance of the author’s perspective.
Travis Harris has been sent to his uncle’s Oklahoma horse ranch because his mother is afraid that he will eventually kill his stepfather, Stan. There are other reasons for getting Travis out of the violent urban world that so resembles earlier Hinton novels, and this past will catch up with him before he finishes the novel. Travis is like many Hinton characters: a loner, conscious of the impression he makes, and always trying to be “cool.”
He has considerable time in the first half of the novel to work on this image, for his uncle Ken’s horse ranch is isolated, and Travis is too young to drive. His uncle ignores Travis most of the time, because he has his own problems trying to fight his wife, Teresa, for custody of their son Christopher. Travis spends time around the barn that Ken has leased to eighteen-year-old Casey Kencaide for her riding school, begins to work for her, and gets more and more involved in the world of training and showing horses.
In true Hinton fashion, the action in the novel, and especially in its second half, is fast-paced: There are riding competitions, a thunderstorm during which the Star Runner of the title breaks free, and scenes in...
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