From the author of the 5-star book The Running Dream is the YA realistic fiction book, Runaway. Holly was in her fifth foster home in two years, and this one was the worst. Mr. and Mrs. Bender called her a "bad girl," and she was always accused of things she did not do. They make her sleep in the laundry room. Things reach a breaking point when Mr. Bender sticks her head in a toilet and flushes several times. Holly has run away before and has always been caught, but this time she is determined to run away for real and survive on her own.
The beginning was amazing, and I thought that it was going to be a 5-star book, just like The Running Dream, the first review I wrote! Soon after, my thoughts changed. The plot was all messed up. The climax happened too early, and most of the book was about her living and traveling by herself, all over the country. The thing I did not like was that there was no real conflict or intrigue. The conflicts in the beginning were never solved, just avoided. I was hoping for certain endings, but they never came.
Really, I just kept reading it to get to the end and find out what happens. A 12-year-old going all over the country, stealing, living under houses, and jumping trains - it just seemed way too easy and unrealistic. I would have liked to seen more conflicts and more hardship. Runaway made running away seem easy, while in reality we know that is not the truth. In the author's defense, this was written 5 years before The Running Dream, so comparisons between the two might not be accurate.
I really liked how the book was a journal/diary. Readers saw a ton of thoughts and feelings about her past and her future. There was a lot of confidence in herself, and Holly was determined to succeed. But as I mentioned earlier, this was not as impressive since there were not many conflicts for her to grow upon. They also helped readers be more connected with Holly. I thought it was a really good thing, and the stories shared added to her current situation.
I also liked who the "you" was in the book. While most readers would assume that the "you" was just the diary/journal, it was directed towards her teacher who gave her the journal to begin with. Originally she hated the idea of writing in a journal, but along the way she grew to like it, so there was some character development. I really liked that she remembered throughout the book who the teacher was, and that she was trying to keep up with school. I enjoyed her hiding in the schools. Some of those scenes were really funny!
This book was worth reading, and I recommend it.
Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 245 Pages
Rating: 3 Stars