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the Run by Heather Henson is a well-written story about teenagers facing
the end of childhood. It is a fast
paced story of two high school soon-to-be graduates, their hopes, their dreams
and their aspirations, and how life intervenes.
the Run is set in Rainey, a small rural Kentucky community. It is the month
before graduation and seventeen-year old Lulu McClellan, aka Crazy Lu, is
eager to graduate from high school, turn eighteen, and get out of Rainey, not
necessarily in that order! Ginny Cavanaugh, Lus best friend, is eager to
graduate high school also, but she wants to go to college, meet Mr. Right,
and settle down into marital bliss. There could not be two more unlikely
friends. In the meantime Lu and Ginny kill time and escape by making the run
to Huntsville where liquor and music are readily available. One night after
making the run, both Lu and Ginny encounter their futures. Lu becomes
reacquainted with Jay Shepard. He is 10 years older than Lu and a former member
of her brother, Dannys band, Orpheus. He has also returned to town after
escaping Rainey for the West. Ginny, on the other hand, meets Reid, a medical
student at the nearby college. As the month slowly winds down towards
graduation, the girls romances rev up into high gear. Like the cars that speed
towards dead mans curve recklessly challenging death and destiny, the girls
own lives rush maddeningly through a maelstrom of alcohol, drugs, and sex. Will
they gain control in time? Or spins out of control and topple over the edge?
The Novel is written from Lus
point of view. Slowly, through a series of flashbacks and dialogues with Jay,
the reader begins to understand Lus tragic life and why she has earned the
nickname crazy Lu . The reader discovers that her mothers sudden death
occurred before her eyes at the age of six. The reader learns about her
movement into photography as a means to cope with the trauma of her mothers
death and the cold distance of her father and brother as they find their own way
to cope with the loss and their grief. The reader hear her silent scream for
love and attention as Lu acts out, skips school, rebels, gets drunk, and takes
drugs. Lus behavior does not go unnoticed by the small-minded traditional
community in which she resides. In contrast, Ginny as the All-American girl
next-door is particularly well written. She is portrayed with all the
complexity of her conflict emotions. She is as changeable as her wardrobe,
trying one lifestyle after another, all the while trying to straddle the line
between appearing as the good girl to authority figures and Miss popularity
with her peers. She is the epitome of the small-town sweetheart with small-town
dreams (a husband, a home, and a family in that order). To her detriment, she
is beautiful, sexy, and has a reputation for getting the goods (looking 18
and being able to buy alcohol). Jay Shepard is another interesting character.
He is older, a loner, world weary, and wiser for it. He has traveled out West,
and has decided to return to Rainey to live. Lu is intrigued by his life beyond
Rainey yet she is completely baffled by his desire to return and settle down in
his hometown. Another interesting character is Lus grandmother, Gran Mac.
While she has a very small role, as Lus adult confidant, she exudes a strong
presence in this novel. Since the novel is written from Lus limited
perspective, the characters and their actions are viewed only through Lus
biased eyes. This can be very frustrating for the reader because other
characters behavior or motives are not always clear or readily understand.
This is, however, what makes this novel very true to real life.
In my opinion this novel is wonderful. It is richly
evocative of that exciting time of life, high school graduation, when like a
carousel everything is thrilling and the brass ring is almost within reach. I
am not sure if this novel reflects the experience of modern teenagers, but for
me, it was a wonder walk down memory lane. My peers were like these young
people. I knew their joys and pain, their hopes and frustrations, and, of
course, the restless boredom. Once more I was able to feel it all just as if I,
too, was reliving it. Perhaps, if the young people do not find this novel a
good read, they should pass it on to their parents.
Heather Henson is an editor for
books for young readers. Her short stories have appeared in the literary
journal, Promethean. She studied
Creative Writing at City College/City University of New York. Born and raised
in Kentucky, Henson currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband and son. Making the Run is her first novel.
the Run by Heather Henson is a wonderful book. Released only last month, it
is too early to record its accolades, but if my hunches are correct, this will
be an award winner by years end. This is a book to buy and to share. Henson is
definitely an author to watch. A definite winner! (Labeled Age 12 and up this
novel contains scenes of sexual expression, and graphic descriptions of drug
use and alcohol abuse.)
© 2002 Su Terry
Su Terry: Education:
B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from
Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling
from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick
Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from
Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of
Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long
Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay
between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in
the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.