“Running Away to Home” (The Journey Trilogy #1) by Lita Hooper (2016)
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
Page Length: 145 (electronic review copy)
How do you find your way home when your home no longer exists? For 17-year old twin sisters Sammie and Ronnie and their father, Willis, the answer to that question becomes a life raft when they are displaced after Hurricane Katrina.
Running Away to Home, a YA verse novel, tells the story of two brave sisters, a repentant father, and the amazing triumphant spirit of familial love.
After leaving New Orleans for Atlanta, Ronnie and Sammie are separated and find themselves living in different parts of the city. Each sister is lured by false promises of love and security as they initially believe the people they encounter.
As a YA verse novel, this story relies on poetry to express the intimacy of sisterhood and the triumphant spirit of its characters. Older YA readers will be moved by this family’s journey in the wake of one of the most memorable historical events our nation has experienced.
Spirit….Strength….Family (description from Goodreads)
Running Away to Home is a verse novel that follows a family who has to leave their house and belongings behind in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Being that the novel is written in verse, it makes the story even more powerful by evoking the emotions of the tragedy and how people mourned the loss of losing everything.
Each character tells a different story. Wilson, the twin’s father, is an alcoholic who has fallen apart after the death of his wife, Velma. The twins, Ronnie and Sammie are glad to be whisked away to safety by the Red Cross, but all they can think about is going back home. Ronnie acts as the responsible one who is desperately trying to find their father while rationing supplies, while Sammie is relishing in her newfound freedom and wants to have fun.
As the family is separated they go down divided paths all while continuing to look for each other. Sammie ends up in helping hands and Ronnie is lured into a trap of false promises by her naivete. Meanwhile, Wilson works hard at getting back on his feet so that he can be reunited with his girls and try to find a home to go back to. The family’s separation serves as obstacle that must be faced head on. Each character goes on journey of self-discovery to learn from the past and grow from their mistakes.
This novel reminded me of all of the emotional and physical damage that Katrina left in its wake and how people are still (today) trying to clean up areas, rebuild, and cope with the aftermath. The book also highlights the enormous amount of families that were torn apart and displaced by Katrina after they were relocated to various shelters and temporary homes. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose everything you’ve ever known.
While the books is beautifully written, I felt it suffered from pacing issues. Everything seemed to happen all at once and there was no breathing space between the events that occurred. Other than that I enjoyed reading this novel and its overall messages of family, survivors, and finding your identity.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.