Kim Ablon Whitney’s novel, The Perfect Distance follows Francie Martinez, a young Mexican-American woman on her way to the Maclay Finals (the granddaddy of all junior equestrian eventing). Francie trains at the same farm where she is also a groom resulting in prejudice behavior from her barn mates. Through life altering relationships and events Francie discovers that all she needs to win the Finals is confidence.
Having been a competitor at the Maclay Finals, Whitney is able to use personal knowledge to project the stresses of competing to the readers. Whitney explains all the horse jargon, but does it in a way that the novel does not read like a textbook or dictionary. The topics of sex, alcohol, and bulimia are addressed in the novel making it better suited for a more mature audience. Having said that, the vocabulary could be beefed up a little to accommodate an older age group. Being an avid rider, I can say that Whitney’s novel is a true-to-life documentation of the struggles riders face while trying to compete and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.
Reviewed by Jhana Kessell
Towson, Maryland USA