Review: Runaway – Wendelin Van Draanen

RunawayTitle: Runaway
 Wendelin Van Draanen
Publication Date: 12 September 2006
ISBN: 0375835229
Pages: 245
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Format: Softcover
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon|Book Depository

Holly is in her fifth foster home in two years and she’s had enough. She’s run away before and always been caught quickly. But she’s older and wiser now–she’s twelve–and this time she gets away clean.

Through tough and tender and angry and funny journal entries, Holly spills out her story. We travel with her across the country–hopping trains, scamming food, sleeping in parks or homeless encampments. And we also travel with her across the gaping holes in her heart–as she finally comes to terms with her mother’s addiction and death.


Y’all, I hope I’m not the only one to realize that a book is part of a spin-off series that you already know and love way after you’ve started reading the book. Right?

Seriously, I was a quarter of the way through before I realized it was by the author of one of my favorite series. And I was half-way through the book before I realized that there was a major connection between the two. Sometimes this girl just isn’t as smart as she claims to be.

Anyway… I’m going to come out and say it. I absolutely adore this book. Holly is an amazingly complex character with so much sass. She’s funny and sarcastic in all the best ways and she’s incredibly resourceful. If you’ve read the Sammy Keyes series, then you know that Van Draanen can create characters who know the right kind of information for any situation without it being weird or strange for the character to know that. Holly is a different type of resourceful from Sammy, she’s more of a “street rat” smart. Sammy excels at reading people, whereas Holly is phenomenal at working her way through challenging situations.

But back to the review.

I really enjoyed the use of the diary format to this novel. I’m not typically a fan of diary entry style books because they’re usually filled with details that nobody actually cares about. Or because too many of the entries are slow because of the nature of the character. However, it works here because Holly’s a teenager and, more importantly, she’s a teenager on the run. She’s not going to right in her journal every night. She really focuses on moments that had a lot of action or surprises just like a normal teenager would do. Because of this, the plot moved along quickly and the occasional exposition chapter felt like it belonged in the context of the story.

Ultimately, I feel that this book is a testament to Van Draanen’s ability to get into a teenager. She has a deep grasp on the “inner workings” of the teenage mind and is incredibly well versed in taking her readers there. More than just have an understanding of the teenage mind in the most average of settings – such as school – Van Draanen is capable of applying this mindset to a myriad of situations. That’s what makes this book as amazing as it is. We’re thrown into a situation that most teenagers won’t go through but it’s so easy to agree with almost every thought and feeling that Holly goes through during the course of her journey.

I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. If you want a quick and interesting read then this is the book for you. If you want to hang around the teenage thought process, this is the book for you. If you’re a fan of Van Draanen’s work, then I can guarantee that you’ll love this one. Seriously, pick it up. It’s a fun and easy read.


4 star


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