This book got a high rating in almost every category, but, except for the language (see below), just about all of the sexuality and violence are commonplace events on a farm or ranch. Most children would be disturbed at some of the goings on of everyday farmlife, but your child, if exposed to intimate animal life, may not be. It might be wise, however, to be cautious in allowing just any child to read this book. The 16+ age group I put My Friend Flicka in is with the average, every day suburbia or city child in mind.
Dreamer and slacker ten-year-old Ken McLaughlin only wants one thing in life: a colt of his own. But no matter what he tries, he always seems to be messing things up on his family's ranch. Will he ever get his own horse and learn responsibility?
A man is said to frequently draw voluptuous-hipped, seductive young women.
A horse's bag is said to be bursting. "Teats." Description of horses nursing.
A detailed description of castrating male horses. A boy's horror and sick feeling watching it be done.
It is said that sheep testes are eaten.
A male horse is said to flirt with other horses.
A man is said to look approvingly at another man's wife and pay her compliments. (No sexual intent.)
A man lies in bed with his wife, his cheek on her hair. He kisses her cheek, hair, and the corner of her mouth. He holds her in his arms. The curve of her body is described.
All throughout the book, a woman is said to have a beautiful, slender body. Clothing is described as fitting her curves well.
A male horse chases a female and mates her. A boy watches. It is said that they "twist into one shape."
A husband and wife kiss on the mouth.
Multiple times a boy is said to have fallen in love with his horse, and it appears almost sexual how passionate his feelings are. It is said it is his first time to have a crush or fall in love when referring to his female horse. He touches and caresses the horse all over "like a lover."
A boy has to cut a cow's teat free from a wire fence.
A woman calls attention to her figure in front of her husband and he notices her bosom is "enormous" and larger than normal. She admits to hiding food under her clothing to keep it from getting wet in the rain.
A man changes out of wet clothes and is naked in front of his wife. (No sexual intent.)
Hired hands wake up in the morning and sit on their bunks naked before getting dressed. (No sexual intent.)
A man holds his wife's head "to his breast."
A married couple cuddle and hold each other in bed.
A man tells his son he "could have shaken your teeth out of your stubborn head."
A man says he is worried about a horse accidentally hanging herself with a piece of rope around her neck.
A kick in the haunches
Arms are described as being red to the elbow in blood
Detailed description of castration. A boy watches lumps of flesh being cut out of young male horses. He watches a doctor with many knives. He thinks of all the thousands of horses that are castrated and imagines an ocean of blood. The horses develop infections, fluid leaks, and they have to be ridden to drain the wounds. One horse dies.
It is said that sheep's testes are eaten.
Mountain lions are said to eat calves and love horse meat.
A calf corpse is found and it smells bad.
A skeleton of a horse is found with particles of flesh still on it. There is still a tail on the bones. The spinal cord is severed in two places. Parts of legs are scattered. Flies are on the carcass, which had been dragged into a cave. There is blood on a rock.
It is said that a horse could cut a cat to pieces with its hooves.
A mountain lion is said to be able to drop on a horse, bit it in the neck, and bite a horse's spine all the way through.
There is a description of coyotes chasing and eating rabbits.
A dead horse is dropped down a mind shaft and the fall is described in detail.
Barbs get in horses' eyes.
A horses kicks a man in the face and it swells up. Blood spurts from his eye.
A man vomits after riding a bucking horse.
A professional bronco buster is said to have broken his ribs and collarbone on the job.
A horse bites a baby horse in the ribs.
An animal is hit by a car.
A horse is cut by barbed wire. The grass is blood-stained.
A boy is hit by hail and it bloodies his cheek.
A horse falls and hits its head. It suffers a brain injury and a man shoots it.
Another horse jumps up and brains herself on a beam. She dies instantly.
Hail kills sheep.
A woman wants to slap her husband's face.
A cow's udder gets stuck on wire. The teat is said to be almost hanging off. A boy says that the cow's future is only the butcher at that point.
A man tells another man to shoot a horse that is dying from a fever. A boy hears a shot and is visibly upset by it.
A mountain lion leaves a mangled carcass of a cow heifer.
There is much cursing throughout the entire book and many, many instance of taking the Lord's Name in vain.
All thoughout, Ken's father uses a lot of profanity. He uses:
God's name in vain 11 times
"Da--" 14 times
"Hell" 11 times
"Bi---" 4 times and
Other offensive words and phrases used:
"Sun of a gun"
Ken's father calls him "dumb" multiple times. He also calls him a "bull-headed little simp."
Horses are described as "hellions."
"Gay" is used to describe happiness.
Christian Principles: None
Ken's father is a blunt, self-reliant, swearing military man who only goes to church (It's mentioned once in the book) to socialize with other officers. We never see anyone praying or referring to God, unless it's in the middle of cursing. Matter of fact, Mr. McLaughlin even says that the horses' god is oats, which we know to be untrue since all creation points to their Creator.
Ken's parents are loving and affectionate, only getting in a fight once, but they strive for "health, goodness, and soundness" as a family. When they are hard up on money, no one looks to God to provide. Instead they just tell their son to "take the bad with the good." Ken's mom admits to being discontent since she never had a daughter. Also Ken and his brother fight constantly. Owning a horse is said to be really living, and Ken worships Flicka. It is even said that he is "in love" with her.
Alcohol, tobacco, and smoking throughout the book.