Foreword Reviews

Hummer

Thirtieth Anniversary Edition

In Linda Gruenberg’s classic novel Hummer, an isolated twelve-year-old blossoms because of her friendship with a neighbor and his Arabian mare, Fox.

Henrietta—nicknamed Hummer because of her humming habit—is the daughter of an agoraphobic hoarder, Leona, and a farmer, Virgil, who is resigned about his wife’s mental illness, and who thinks that allowing her to remain in this state is a form of loving protection. Ashamed by the garbage amassing in her home, Hummer avoids getting close to others. She grows fond of her taciturn neighbor Riley’s mare, which he allows her to train for a fifty-mile competitive trail ride.

Gruenberg’s novel is an eloquent portrayal of secrecy, cross-generational friendship, and horsemanship. Hummer’s hopes about finding relief for her family make her a vulnerable heroine, and her subtle, interior changes are compelling. She’s at first a child who tells fibs, embellishing stories to keep people from discovering the truth about her home life, but she’s also a compassionate daughter and talented with animals, which allows her to gain confidence as she trains Fox, improving her stamina for the trail ride.

Riley’s advice is succinct, and his gruffness is a sweet mask for his empathy about Hummer’s need for companionship. Their interactions are laced with subtle wisdom as they bond over Fox. Throughout, details about rural life and equine care reveal a passion for small-town relationships as well as wilderness spaces, all of which builds toward a beautiful metaphor for healing through trust.

Through its sensitive depiction of a family coping with mental illness, whose fallout affects their daughter’s emotions and perceptions, Hummer is a touching novel in which problems are not so much resolved as they are recognized.

Reviewed by Karen Rigby

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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