Pages: 496 pages
Published: March 5, 2020
Genre: Poetry, Young Adult, Contemporary
When Amber runs, it is the only time she feels happy and free, especially from her claustrophobic life. She must deal with family obligations, particularly from her father. Her father wants her to be the dutiful daughter, like accepting an arranged marriage, just like her sister. So running is Amber’s form of a rebellion. But now, Amber wants more. She wants more for her mother, her sister and herself. It is time for a revolution. But as always, freedom comes at a price.
2020 is not only the year of the coronavirus, but it is also the year I’ve read excellent books, mainly novels in verse. This reason is why I love reading YA novels from the UK. British YA novels convey so much emotion. In their way, they tell thought-provoking stories that open readers’ minds and write words you don’t often hear about in other YA novels. I came across blogs and websites talking about this latest YA debut, Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann. The synopsis intrigued me, so I decided to pick it up, and I’m happy that I did. This emotional and compelling novel had all the elements that made this book one of my favorite reads of the year.
Don’t be fooled. There might be short sentences and a few words, but it does not deflect from the power and the emotion these words convey. Novel in verse is a writing style that is here to stay, and Mann’s writing is a perfect example of that statement. The story told in verse still conveys complex emotions that reveal the bare bones of the characters’ personalities, especially with the main protagonist, Amber. Amber’s fear, perseverance, anger and hope oozed from the pages. For some readers, they may not identify with Amber’s situation. However, that does not mean readers cannot have a personal connection with Amber. That is just how good a job Mann did with the character development. Amber felt so personable, so realistic, a characteristic that is a difficult find in YA fiction, in my opinion.
Run, Rebel touches on so many themes: religion, family, bullying, domestic violence, alcoholism, and so much more. Mann may have focused on many of these themes; she does not pull focus away from any of them, giving each of them the proper attention they deserve. The theme of domestic violence is the one that takes center stage. Amber’s fight to break away from her father’s abuse is both saddening and empowering. Mann was able to convey Amber’s uplifting journey into such a powerful read that there were times I could not tear my eyes from the pages. One part I need to highlight (without giving away too much of the plot) is how this story reflects generational trauma. It shows how unresolved hate and sadness can be passed down, with a cycle of hatred neverending. This sentiment is what most readers can and will identify with, particularly this year, and a theme that I believe was important to highlight.
You don’t only get Amber’s narrative, you also get her mother’s and her sister Ruby’s, as well. Their added perspective made this less one-sided and offer various views. To hear what they went and were going through just added more realism to the story. It is not an easy feat to change perspectives in a verse novel, but Mann does it so convincingly and beautifully.
I can prattle on why this is a fantastic book, but I think by you reading this book, you will discover why this novel will give you a different outlook on life. Heartbreaking and empowering, Run, Rebel shows real passion and genuine sentiment, displaying passionate writing talent and making this one impressive debut. Manjeet Mann is a definite author to keep a watchful eye on.