Published by Tyndale on May 17, 2022
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"It's hard to be lonely, isn't it? To miss someone who should be here?"
Jodi Stuber wasn't looking for another horse for her struggling therapy ranch--let alone one like Solomon. After losing his herd, he was solitary and sad, spending his days standing near the plastic deer in his yard for company. No stranger herself to loss and heartache, Jodi knew she had to give Solomon a home.
The road to recovery wouldn't be easy. As Solomon struggled to fit in with his new herd and Jodi continued to navigate her own grief, the two developed a deep bond. But just as Jodi and Solomon were both beginning to heal, an unthinkable tragedy struck the therapy ranch. And Solomon was about to teach Jodi the greatest lesson of all.
Written by Jennifer Marshall Bleakley, author of Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others Learn to See, Project Solomon is a powerful story of resilience, sacrifice, and love that reminds us all how much we matter--to each other and to God.
There were only two things I did not like about Project Solomon by Jodi Stuber and Jennifer Marshall Bleakley, and I would say only one is a critique: It was disjointed in some instances. The time skips were too abrupt, and there weren’t adequate transitions between the year gaps. Outside of that, though? Project Solomon is beautiful. It is a raw, emotional, and honest story about a woman’s own struggle with grief, while simultaneously trying to help others battle their own. The book talks about the realities of pain and loss, but it offers hope, encouragement, and comfort. It may focus on the power of horses, but Project Solomon is an appropriate and fulfilling read for everyone, not just horse lovers.
I related to Jodi a little too much; I have not suffered the same type of loss, but I have experienced some of my own. When it has occurred, I have run to the barn. When my “heart horses” have passed, I have escaped to the barn. That is where I find my peace. If I’m stressed or sad, you’ll probably find me at the barn. If I’m happy, I’ll be at the barn. Not necessarily even riding—just…being present. I’ll groom my horse for two hours, either listening to an audiobook or to my mare’s breathing. Or I’ll sit in the middle of the pasture with no agenda and no expectations. Sometimes I’ll talk to the horses, because like Jodi, it’s easier for me to talk to them than to other people. Other times, I will say nothing at all. There is no need.
For people unaccustomed to the human-equine connection, Project Solomon may seem farfetched, but I can assure you, it is very real. Project Solomon portrays this truth better than any other books I have read. I teared up when reading this book because of how heavily it spoke to my heart. It brought up hard memories, but it also reminded me of the people (and the horses) that helped me through those challenging situations. It caused me to recollect the happy moments in the darkness. The releases in times of pain. The love of a God who never leaves in the times I have felt alone.
Project Solomon by Jodi Stuber and Jennifer Marshall Bleakley is the exact book our society needs today. Because let’s be real, the world depresses us. Most people I know do not watch the news because of the negativity. The media rarely highlights happy stories, unless they revolve around sports—but even sports can have controversy and heartbreak. Project Solomon demonstrates that even in the darkest, deepest pit of despair, a way out exists. It may differ for you and me, but God reaches out His hand to everyone. He can use whatever He wants—including the accepting, tender, and nonjudgmental eyes of horses with whom there is no need for façades. They will absorb your worries, your tears, your stresses, your pains.
I said at the beginning of the review that I disliked Project Solomon for two reasons only. The second? I did not like when it ended; I wanted to continue walking with Jodi and the HopeWell crew. I wanted to witness God’s work through their staff and their horses…so I followed HopeWell Ranch on Facebook. Because I couldn’t stop with Project Solomon‘s final page. This is one of those books I will read again, and it’s all because Jodi Stuber’s willingness to be open and vulnerable about the agonies—and successes—involved in walking God’s path for her life.