Written by: Kody Keplinger
Release Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 288, hardcover
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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.
As anyone who knows me can probably tell you, I live for books focusing on friendship, especially female friendship. While the book world has given me more of these stories lately (thank you, book world) there still aren’t nearly enough. So when I read this book’s summary, I basically whispered “thank god” to myself. And when I read the book itself, my heart basically turned into a pile of jelly and I cried a lot because the story was so beautiful.
Run is up there with Code Name Verity for me as one of the loveliest friendship love stories in YA. The POV is split between Agnes, a legally blind girl heavily sheltered by her parents, and Bo, who has a troubled home life and a bad reputation. Agnes narrates the past, telling the story of how the girls met, while Bo’s POV’s show their escape months later. Both Bo and Agnes have authentic and distinct voices, and I loved the ways they helped each other grow. Both Bo and Agnes feel trapped in their small town, and both know what it’s like to be boxed in by others, seen as a stereotype rather than a full person. By the end of the book they’re each other’s home and I cry a lot.
I can’t talk enough about how gorgeous this book is. Kody Keplinger builds this vivid rural setting and makes it feel so vivid and so suffocating. Bo and Agnes’s friendship is sincere and gutwrenching, as is their amazing development throughout the book. In addition, Kody Keplinger, like Agnes, is blind, making this a really important portrayal of disability in YA. Run is gorgeous, and a must-read if you’re interested in contemporaries that focus on girl friendship or accurately portray disability.
I’m starting to understand why Sondra has so much trouble with this section. I did rate this book 4.5 rather than 5, but that has less to do with any concrete issues I had and more with the fact that I save my 5’s for books I want to shout to everyone I ever met about, and this book isn’t quite that, although now that I’m writing the review I’m thinking it might be. I maybe would have liked more fall-out after the end (but I’m also fine with the way it was).
Bo and Agnes are just 100% solid characters. They may seem like archetypes at first, and maybe they are, a little, but Keplinger’s writing fills out the lines and makes them so heart-achingly believable, and they don’t always make the decisions you would expect them to make based on their descriptions. And the character development! Agnes standing up for herself and actively pursuing her independence, Bo learning to run to people instead of just running away…it all felt so beautiful and nuanced and real. And I’ve already talked about how much I love the friendship, so I’ll just leave this here.
The pacing is excellent, and I love the format with alternating POVs. Agnes shows us a beautifully developing friendship and the frustration of growing up with such a limited future, and Bo’s chapter’s are basically a combination of tension and excitement and PAIN. I always felt like we spent just the right amount of time in one POV before switching over to the other. The book kept me waiting for the reveal of why the girls ran away, and when I got there it was worth the wait.
As noted before: Agnes is a blind character written by a blind author, and even though I don’t know enough to comment on specific details, I could absolutely tell the author understood what she was talking about.
Other things I loved: Bo’s bisexuality. The fact that Agnes has to grapple with her religious beliefs when she finds out that Bo is bisexual (because that kind of thing is rarely ever included, and even more rarely given the nuanced treatment it has here). Believable secondary characters. Poetry.
Pick up. It will make you feel things.