I didn't have many five star books this summer but this was a no brainer. An under the radar book for me, Deb Caletti has written a story that forced me to reflect on just about everything I’ve ever done as a teenager and well into my twenties, specifically as it pertains to the opposite sex. This reflection isn’t forced or shameful, it’s necessary. And so very riveting. How can a book about a girl who just runs be riveting, you ask? Trust me, it is.
Annabelle has been through some stuff, to put it mildly, and quite frankly it's not going well. She’s tried to keep up her smiles, her perfect grades, her test scores, her friends, but the Taker is lurking. After an innocent stop to grab dinner, Annabelle just loses it. She drops her grease-filled bag, turns, and runs. Ignores the dinging of her cell phone, the pain in her legs and just runs. Eventually, she calls her mother (whom I adored in this), and she and her brother drive to meet at the hotel Annabelle’s at for the night. Something happens to her then, and she realizes that she just wants to keep running. She can’t put her finger on it but she knows it’s the right thing to do. After some major cajoling by her and her BEYOND AMAZING younger brother to convince her mom, she’s on her way. She barely has a running plan or money for food and hotels. But she doesn’t care.
Thankfully, Annabelle still has some good luck on her side. It’s in the shape of a fairy godfather; her old Italian grandfather and his RV will now be following her across the country to Washington, DC. He’s not sure how to help her otherwise but this is enough to give her the push to go ahead. It’s during her sixteen mile runs each day (aren’t you exhausted just thinking about it) that Annabelle gives us glimpses into her past. Before the Taker and after. It’s here where I found myself connecting with her the most -her conversations, feelings, reactions, and ultimately her decisions and what led to all the bad that’s in her head. I’m not saying her story is my story but man, I’ve been in similar situations and I still don’t know the right thing to do. Except to smile. People love it when a girl smiles, right? Oh, and make sure that I’m nice. It’s important to not hurt anyone’s feelings.
Amazing narration by none other than Julia Whelan; this may actually be one of my top three of her audios. I can’t say enough about the secondary characters in this story. They are stunning and perfectly support Annabelle. Highly recommend for teens, especially females. Scratch that and change it to ALL TEENS.