Published by Penguin Books
Cover illustration by Manjit Thapp
Next up on my exploration of Young Adult novels is the absolutely tremendous, powerful and beautiful book, Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann, a story of rebellion and about finding your voice.
Run, Rebel is a novel written in verse that tells the story of Amber, a teenage girl trapped by the expectations placed upon her, her father’s controlling and bullying behaviour and by her own insecurities.
Amber Rai lives at home with her parents, her sister having moved out to marry a man chosen for her as part of an arranged marriage. Due to their illiteracy, Amber’s parents rely on her to help them with day to day tasks that involve reading and writing. Her father is an abusive and controlling alcoholic who has very strict expectations of Amber. She is desperate to live the way that she wants, yet terrified of what her father is capable of if she disobeys him.
Amber’s escape, her freedom, comes from her passion and talent for running. On the track is where she can be herself and when an opportunity arises to take her running to the next level she is determined to embrace it.
There are so many themes that Run, Rebel explores. As well as confronting domestic abuse and alcoholism, it explores issues of bullying, teenage relationships, jealousy and poverty but at its heart it is about feminism, freedom, empowerment, equality and rebellion.
I loved the depth of each character. Everyone was important and I would love to see each of their stories explored and expanded. Every piece of poetry in this book is so well-written, so powerful and so emotive that it could stand alone as an excellent piece of writing. Put together to tell a story it becomes something else altogether, something immense.
Run, Rebel is a beautifully written lyrical joy. Often heart-wrenching, but ultimately powerful and uplifting, it is a truly stunning book about discovering your truth and having the courage to fight for it.