Rather disappointingly, I didn’t enjoy Riding Lessons nearly as much as the first book I read by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants. Riding Lessons is about a woman who suffered a terrible riding accident in her late teens, cutting off her Olympic ambitions. 20 years later, jobless, getting divorced, and with a difficult teenage daughter, she returns to the family home (where her father is dying) to figure out her life. The book was a quick read and relatively engaging, but I never felt really drawn into the plot the way I did with Water for Elephants. I actually found the main character quite tiresome. She repeatedly does incredibly stupid and irrational things and I felt like shaking some sense into her. The story is told in the first person from her perspective and I didn’t feel like the author did it convincingly enough to make me understand why she was acting the way she did.
Since this was Gruen’s first novel, that is a good sign that she actually improved as a writer. I will certainly read her fourth novel, Ape House, in the hopes that it is more like Water for Elephants, but I don’t know if I will read the sequel to this one, Flying Changes.