Thursday, 9 April 2020

900 Miles by E J Runyon

900 Miles by E J Runyon
Published by Inspired Quill on the 26th March 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sudden luck strikes the one person who won’t share the news.

It’s a mega win on a weekly lotto ticket; a ton of cash.

But even though Christina’s howls of triumph scare the cat, she can’t tell her stepdad Harrison. Not even when a frustrated, off-the-cuff retort to a co-worker sets her free from a newspaper job she no longer needs anyway.

She fills notebook pages with bucket lists, but can’t bring herself to just pick any. Wanting but not letting herself have, that’s Christina all over. Motherless, practically raising Harrison instead of the other way around. For Christina, winning is what you hide so fate can’t make it sour.

But fate has other plans.

She lucks into a newer, quirkier job (to hide from Harrison), and the new office opens a whole new world right on her doorstep. Bit by bit, Christina’s horizon widens. A black and white photograph helps her to discover friends of the finest kinds. A tribe with eyes like hers.

While she struggles with Harrison’s addiction, and fights against all that she now has, fate wheels Christina on a 900-miles road trip to confront the young woman she could be, but can’t yet face in the mirror.

Anne Goodwin and Clare Stevens are both authors whose books I have very much enjoyed so, when their publisher, Inspired Quill, contacted me with the offer of reviewing the work of another of their authors, E J Runyon, I jumped at the chance. I love that I can rely on IQ novels to be well written, but the narrative lines don't follow predictable grooves so the work feels fresh and original. This is certainly the case with 900 Miles.

900 Miles is predominantly a coming of age tale, one where our protagonist, Christina, is already physically older than perhaps she 'should' be at this stage of her life, but mentally she is locked in to a certain way of living. She has well worn routines even to the point of repetitive conversations with her co-workers and I got the sense that, had fate not shaken things up, Christina would have been in exactly the same isolated circumstances at fifty as she is at the start of this book. I thought Runyon captured Christina beautifully. She obviously has a lot of sympathy and understanding for this character and I was easily able to empathise with her introversion and lack of social confidence.

Once Christina sees her Lotto numbers come up, I expected the story to take a particular direction, but Christina's need to avoid that attention makes for a very interesting situation. I wondered how I would cope with her predicament myself. Eventually, of course, financial freedom does allow her to blossom into the woman she wants to become, but I loved that this happens almost in spite of the money rather than because of it. Christina first needs to find people who appreciate her for herself and to learn to allow them to be her friends. It's a difficult thing to do and I thought Runyon portrayed Christina's gradual maturing in a really sensitive way. Her emotional journey felt convincingly authentic.

900 Miles would be, I think, a great reading choice for fans of quirky coming of age novels and it could also be a strong book club selection with Runyon's unusual view of the rags to riches storyline provoking some inspired discussion.

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