Holding the Horse

A boy the world dismissed. His impossible dream of glory. Can this underdog really fight and win?

Fourteen-year-old Sid Everett longs for excitement and the glory of being a famous jockey. Despite having nothing but an old farm horse, he dreams of riding to victory with his name in the headlines and money in his pockets.

But his father seems dead set against the idea. Ever since Dad cam home from the war he’s been like a ticking time-bomb, and Sid and his family don’t know what to expect from one moment to the next. With money getting tighter by the day, and Dad becoming harder and harder to live with, Sid’s dreams have never felt further away.

But Sid has a plan…

Set in post-WWII rural New Zealand, Holding The Horse is a story of dreams, determination, and ultimately sacrifice. J L Williams evokes the 1940s with accuracy and sensitivity. A fast paced and heart-warming story of courage, conflict and reconciliation which will long remain in the heart and mind.

By J L Williams

$22.00 incl. GST

4 in stock (can be backordered)

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Author’s note

Holding The Horse is book one in the two-book Holding The Horse series, but can be read as a standalone book. Recommended reading age 10 to 16 years. The sequel, Like The Wind, completes the story of Sid Everett achieving his dream of becoming a famous jockey, and a whole lot more on a more personal level at the same time. Holding The Horse has considerable content about horses, and about the father-son relationship. It brings the reader into the world of Post-WWII New Zealand in the 1940s. It has themes of ambition, family values, the father-son relationship, honesty, hardship, caring, deafness (of a small sibling) courage, sacrifice and reconciliation.


Philippa Werry, award winning author ~ “A gripping story that will have you cheering for Sid all the way. A racing good book for anyone who loves horses, history or characters with grit and determination.”

Janice Marriott, award winning author and mentor ~ “There is nothing clichéd here. This story is full of emotion. An important story about PSTD, dreams and ambitions, and making do. All this resonates with the modern-day world we are now entering.”

Diana Menefy, award winning author ~ “The history is accurate, the plot and the characters are interwoven to portray the social issues of the time, and the decisions, regrets, and triumphs that Sid goes through reflect real life. The book is a gripping read with good characterisation, action and conflict, and the language is a pleasure to read.”

Bill Nagelkerke, award winning children’s author, translator and former children’s librarian ~ “Set in rural New Zealand in 1946 this story is both engaging and engrossing. Sid’s father, not long home from the war, is struggling to cope with a return to a life that now offers few opportunities: his own shadowed past sets him against his son’s ambition of becoming a famous jockey. Without knowing the reasons for his father’s opposition, Sid does all he can to realise his dream, even to the extent of putting everything he hopes for in jeopardy. The story’s momentum is carried swiftly along by pacy dialogue, persuasive family dynamics, including issues concerning a small deaf sibling, a dash of happy coincidence, as well as a low-key romance between Sid and the daughter of a local horse owner. The historical background of returned soldiers suffering PTSD, as well as feeling generally abandoned by officialdom, is convincing. With a neatly constructed, satisfying plot this exciting story is also a warm-hearted tale that should have wide appeal.”

Holding The Horse was a 2022 Storylines NZ Notable Book in the Junior Fiction category, and a finalist in the NZ Book Awards in the Best First Book category.

About the Kiwi author

Find out more about Whangarei author J L Williams on her author page.J L Williams NZ author

Additional information

Dimensions20.3 × 12.7 × 10 cm
First published



Paperback edition



Page count


Published by

Ocean Echo Books


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