Published by Scholastic Press on June 28th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.
Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter -- protect her from what, Agnes isn't quite sure.
Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it's the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.
So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn't hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo's dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and -- worst of all -- confronting some ugly secrets.
Ever since I first read The DUFF – which, incidentally, was one of the first books that got me into YA contemporary romances – Kody Keplinger has been one of my favorite authors of all time. Obviously, that means that I have rather high expectations, and reviewing books when they don’t live up to those expectations is ridiculously hard. Run was not exactly a Debby book.
I already feel horrible about saying that, because when it comes to own voices, this is one of the most authentic and personal books on the market. Kody is blind, and in this book, Agnes is blind. Bo is bi, though that’s not a focal point of the story. It’s also got the southern edge to it, which is very much Keplinger. And it shows two characters with different disadvantages trying to get out of their lower class prison-like town.
Kody’s said that this is the book of her heart… so it’s hard to separate the book from the person. But I feel like this book hones in on such specific themes, cultural elements, and social issues, that if you can’t relate to them directly, you feel kind of estranged from the book.
The southern side of the story was the hardest for me to get into. Bo has a definite southern twang, and I generally dislike that kind of dialect in books. I also find it really hard to see this kind of… white trailer trash. Like Bo is obviously not the worst person, and she doesn’t at all deserve the rumors that are spread about her just because of her family name. It’s her mother that’s the true trailer trash. But then to witness the rumors, the dominance of religion, and the hoity toity higher class conservative people looking down their noses at her? Ugh, so frustrating. Obviously, it’s meant to be frustrating. But still. Frustrating.
I did like seeing Agnes’s story though. She’s obviously smart, brave, and compassionate. However, because she’s blind, she’s held back by absolutely everyone. Her parents don’t want to let her go anywhere unsupervised, she’s perceived as a burden by “friends” who have to constantly watch out for her… It was a very accurate picture of the stigma that blind people face. Agnes doesn’t want to be perceived as a weak, sweet victim that we all need to protect. She’s just a person… who happens to be blind. This part of the story was very well done.
However, how the overall story is told was not as great for me. It alternates between the perspectives of Bo in the present time – as the two run away from home – and Agnes in the past – as she first meets Bo and begins to actually live her own life. I have this thing where I don’t like alternating perspectives that much – especially when they’re paired with time jumps. At a certain point, I want to continue on with the story that I’m reading, but I keep being jolted out of it. That can be frustrating. I will say, however, that both characters have really distinctive voices.
It all really comes down to the friendship though. This is a friendship book, but boy, it’s a complicated one. In Agnes’s chapters you see that Bo is friendly, honest, and that she allows (and even encourages) Agnes to be independent. She really helps her grow into her own person and to get the confidence she needs to tell people that she needs to be able to live her own life. In Bo’s chapters, you see that Bo’s actually insecure, scared, and borderline manipulative. She needs Agnes so that she has the confidence to run away, but she’s hardly thinking about what’s good for Agnes when they do. At a certain point, the friendship turns out to be kind of obsessive and unhealthy, and I really don’t like that kind of relationship. It didn’t sit well with me.
Maybe I would have liked the book a bit more if it didn’t seem like it was Bo and Agnes against the world. When I started getting turned off by their friendship, I had nowhere else to turn to. They didn’t have any other friends. Bo’s mother is an addict and a nightmare. Agnes’s parents are completely smothering. And there’s no real romance – Agnes does get involved with Bo’s cousin, but it’s such a minor detail of the story that it’s almost pointless. And the writing has some moments of heavy handed symbolism… I think at least 5 chapters end with the word “run”. I didn’t want to roll my eyes at this book, but, well, I did.