There are a lot of dreary, dystopic YA novels out there. This book, Running for My Life, by Ann Gonzalez is not one of them. Yes, it deals with a teenager who is recovering from dealing with her abusive schizophrenic mother but this book is much, much more than a problem novel. With honesty, humor and tenderness, Ann tells the story of Andrea who finds strength and healing through running, a first boyfriend, a good therapist and a stuffed rabbit named Pedro.
Disclaimer: Ann was a student of mine in the Whidbey MFA program. I wish I could say I had anything to do with this book being as fine as it is. The only assistance I can truly lay claim to is lending Ann a pen on the very first day of the very first Residency. The rest was all Ann, who wrote this first draft of this manuscript during NaNoWriMo (was it 2006?).
The gutsy writing completely honors the gusty main character, who deals with Problems, like a mentally ill mom, but also problems, like what to wear on a first date. I fell in love with Andrea on my first reading and still think about her, a year or so later.
I’m betting you will, too.
Thanks, Kirby. You are the best friend a writer can have, and you influenced this book in every way — from pen to paper to final scene. After all, you gave me a model for that great good friend Margie.