Book Review: Joey by Jennifer Marshall Bleakley

joey jennifer marshall bleakley book reivew

The synopsis on the back of the book:

The heartwarming true story of a blind horse named Joey.
At the height of his show career, this beautiful Appaloosa's majestic stature, strength, and willingness to work made him the perfect partner. But when an injury cost Joey his show career, he moved from one owner to the next, ultimately experiencing severe abuse and neglect. A rescue group found Joey nearly dead from starvation--and blind.

Then he came to Hope Reins--a ranch dedicated to helping hurting kids who had been abused, emotionally wounded, or unwanted. By teaching these children to care for rescued animals, the Hope Reins staff were convinced they could reach kids with love and hope and show them that we are never forgotten by God.

But could the financially struggling ranch afford to take care of a blind horse that no one else wanted? Could Joey somehow learn to trust people even though the world had hurt him so badly? And what would happen--to Joey, the kids, and Hope Reins--if they failed?

  • Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction
  • Published: Coming out tomorrow (the 8th)! 
  • Pages: 288
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.84
joey jennifer marshall bleakley book review
A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.
— Pam Brown

Why I Chose This Book

I am a big animal lover. I worked at a horse ranch during one summer in High School and in return learned how to ride horses. It was such a rewarding summer and horses really do have this therapeutic effect. I was so excited to read the story of Joey and how he healed young children. 

First Initial Thoughts

This is based on a true story. Joey was a real horse and Hope Reigns is a real ranch in Raleigh, North Carolina. I found the story of how Kim started Hope Reigns truly inspirational. It was heartwarming how many people from her church and community supported her and wanted to help start her business. I also found it amazing that Kim was able to run the ranch entirely on donations. She kept the horse sessions entirely free- and she still does today! How amazing is that?! 

Whenever I hear about animal rescue stories they always bring tears to my eyes. How can someone be so cruel to such a beautiful animal? God was truly looking out for Joey and had a plan for him.

Speckles is also a new horse that was introduced at the beginning of the novel. At first, Joey and Speckles did not get along. Speckles would bully Joey. This frequently happens among pets/animals when their territory is invaded. Speckles was a funny horse though too. He would go around and "steal" things. It was absolutely hilarious. 

Joey was absolutely a charmer. Even though he was blind, he never let that hinder his daily life. He loved the children that visited him and was that emotional support that they so desperately needed. 


Jennifer brought Hope Reigns to life. You could imagine what the ranch would of looked like. She has a true talent in capturing the character's emotions and how the horses helped the children - and adults alike! 

Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.
— JOB 12:7-8

Final Thoughts

Everyone, this is a tear jerker. A roller coaster emotional ride. If you are an animal lover you will cry frequently throughout this story. 

Joey and Speckles though revels in the beginning soon became the best of friends. Speckles would help Joey see- guiding him through their pen. They would often "talk" to each other and it was the sweetest thing! 

This story reminds us how animals help us heal. Horses especially have this ability to help children heal. "In equine-facilitated psychotherapy, interacting with horses helps clients explore their feelings. Keenly aware of emotional energies, horses sense what we’re feeling, sometimes better than we do." Diane Dreher, Ph.D., Psychology Today. God truly has created a beautiful animal. 

Even though the story was about helping emotional children, I think this story was truly about how the horses helped the owners and volunteers. Sarah and Lauren, two of the volunteers presented in the story, with their own struggles and emotional issues, learned to forgive and trust again; with the help of the horses. 

In the back of the book, there are pictures of Joey and Speckles. It was nice seeing real pictures of them. It helped me feel more emotionally connected to the horses and ranch in the story. 

Would I Recommend?

Yes. I think this is a beautiful story. Just make sure you have tissues on hand!


Hope Reigns is a real place! Visit their website and learn about their business ---> HERE

You can pre-order the book ---> HERE

Do you also love horses? Have you ever rode a horse? Share your experiences below!

the caffeinated bibliophile

NOTE: I was provided this book for free to review by Tyndale Publishing. All opinions are my own.