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Run, Rebel

Run, Rebel

Manjeet Mann
Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780241411421

I read the prologue of this beautifully written verse novel and was instantly hooked. Amber Rai wants to be an athlete, she feels truly at home on the track, completely free and totally at peace with everything around her when she's running.

Running is a form of quiet rebellion but she wants more, she wants to be able to make her own choices and not to have her life planned for her. Her father is an abusive, misogynistic and illiterate alcoholic who wants to rule her life like he has her sister Ruby and her mother, too. So her life is lived in two halves - on one side are her friends David and Tara (both wonderfully supportive), Mackie D's and running - on the other, her difficult family life and living in fear of her father.

Amber is a strong and powerful heroine, in fact all the characters in this book are beautifully drawn and totally believable. Amber's mother particularly so, she has been subservient for too long and begins to quietly stand up for herself, empowering herself day by day. The themes in this novel don't make for an easy read but ultimately, there was hope and peace and a sense of empowerment.

The four verses early on in the novel called Conceal 1,2,3 and 4 are just so haunting, harsh and real. The depictions of school are pitched perfectly. As are Amber's visits to town and Mackie D's, trying to avoid being seen - I felt like I was living it with her.

This novel is set around the anatomy of a revolution; restless, dissatisfaction, control, momentum, honeymoon, terror, overthrow and peace. It's a beautiful heart-wrenching and heartbreaking stream of consciousness that absolutely triumphs. It's fast-paced, descriptive and totally immersive. An absolute high-five for feminism and being the exception and not the rule.

Manjeet Mann is a powerful new voice for young adults and Run, Rebel will appeal to fans of verse novels and also Angie Thomas, Muhammad Khan, and Elizabeth Acevedo. A powerfully impressive debut novel that is impossible to put down.

496 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Lucy Georgeson, school librarian


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