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Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2021
  • 9781953944047 B08XMYYRF3
  • 288 pages
  • $14.95
Runaway Train
They told me I was an out-of-control train about to crash… Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control. I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way. At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only way she knows how.
Reviews
Goldberg’s (Orange City) emotional coming of age story mixes 90’s nostalgia with a rebellious teenage protagonist on the verge of hitting rock bottom. Nico Sullivan worships Kurt Cobain, constantly skips school, and spends her time getting wasted with her friends. Her secret desire to become a singer stalls out due to severe insecurities stemming from continual comparisons to her picture-perfect sister, Kristen. But Kristen unexpectedly dies, and Nico makes a hasty decision to run away, taking off on a turbulent road trip, with the hopes of fulfilling her bucket list.

Nico is a relatable teen who pumps up the radio to drown out her pain and struggles to express her emotions in healthy ways. Alcohol and drug use are prevalent themes as she grapples to come to terms with the loss of her sister, and the characters she meets on the road steer her path towards self-discovery, though some fall into neat stereotypes. Goldberg doesn’t shy away from heavy topics such as addiction, abortion, and suicide; however, some readers will feel the topic of suicide (described by Nico as “the easy way out”) and Nico’s distaste for therapy could be presented to a young adult audience with more compassion and empathy.

Just as the title evokes Soul Asylum, each of Goldberg’s chapters is named for a vintage rock cut, and the manuscript is divided into “Side A” and “Side B,” a welcome motif for readers who spent their formative years rocking out to grunge. Nineties references pepper the story, from Nico’s “MAC Viva Glam Taupe Lipstick” to her Sony Sports Walkman to the Liz Phair classic that closes a chapter with an emotional punch. Goldberg’’s storytelling is heartfelt, assured, and polished. Readers wanting to relive the alternative rock scene of the era will immediately bond with Nico as she struggles to step out of her grief and into the light.

Takeaway: A heartfelt story of a teenager on the verge of a breakdown discovering her strength on a 90s grunge roadtrip.

Great for fans of: Elizabeth Keenan’s Rebel Girls, Meagan Macvie’s The Ocean in My Ears.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A+
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A+

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2021
  • 9781953944047 B08XMYYRF3
  • 288 pages
  • $14.95

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