Run Rebel is both beautifully told, but absolutely gut-wrenching.
It’s written in verse, and I loved how in the author’s q&a, she says: “It was easier to deal with big emotional subjects by getting straight to the heart of the issue and saying more with very little.” And that shines through so so much. The fear, the heartache, the trauma, is all so palpable in just a few lines. This is the kind of story that tugs you out of your world and into the life of Amber Rai: track runner, rebel, domestic abuse survivor.
The story is so full of heartache.
Amber is the daughter of two immigrant parents (India to the UK) and they’re both illiterate and can’t speak English, so she has to navigate this world for herself and for them. Her father is scarily abusive, controlling, beats her mother viciously, and Amber just drifts from one day to the next so twisted up with anxiety and fear that it poisons even the good things her life. She’s jealous of her best friends; she’s furious at her sister for abandoning her; she both loves and sometimes hates her mother for not fighting back; and Amber just wants to run track but she’s forbidden.
The blurb kind of made it sound like it would be about Amber being forced into an arranged marriage — but that’s not the storyline. It’s looming in the background, but the plot follows Amber’s twisting pain as enough becomes enough and she rebels.
It really tackles domestic violence with careful nuance; how sometimes you try and forgive or justify your abuser, how it’s not just that easy to leave, how it changes you. I also appreciate that this came from an #ownvoices perspective for the Indian representation. The author even has started an initiative to get girls and women out of abusive situations (also helps them through sport) and like you can see on the page how much this story means to the author.
It’s so so heartbreaking but hopeful.
And usually I find verse books a bit sparse on the details, but this one really hooked me in. All the emotions. There’s also this part where Amber’s teacher is confused that Amber can’t just defy her oppression whenever she wants and walk out, and Amber is just inwardly like: you don’t even understand that rebellion is a privilege. This is one of those stories that truly makes you sit back and think.
Thanks to Penguin for the ARC! Run Rebel by Manjeet Mann is out now!
When Amber runs, it’s the only time she feels completely free – far away from her claustrophobic home life. Her father wants her to be a dutiful daughter, waiting for an arranged marriage like her sister Ruby.
Running is a quiet rebellion. But Amber wants so much more – and she’s ready to fight for it.
It’s time for a revolution.
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do you read many books in verse?? or books set in the UK? let me know in the comments! and is this one on your TBR?