Wind Rider by Susan Williams.
HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 2006.

Fern is on the verge of womanhood and is pressed by the women of her family to learn womanly duties while her twin brother seems to mostly play since his life on the plains is expected to be freer than hers. Her mother wishes to suppress Fern's gift of communication with animals as she and others see it as unnatural. One day, avoiding her chores, she helps a young horse stuck in the bog. She keeps the horse in a secret place, shares a friendship with it, and learns to ride. In a society whose only use for horses is food, Fern develops new uses through her bond with her horse Thunder. Because of their fear, much more must happen before the tribe will accept the changes Fern shows them.

This is an excellent story in which Fern is transformed from an unaccepted girl not wishing to become a woman to a loving and respected woman who has given much to her community and has become a legend. Beautifully written, it will appeal to a wide range of ages.

related-prehistoric explanation of the development of domesticated horses, girls-duties, feelings, and transition to womanhood, coming of age, human/animal communication, gender roles, prehistoric peoples, historical fiction

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