Thursday, August 8, 2019

How Are We Supposed To Go On Living?

A Heart in a Body in the WorldA Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are a few life-changing events that happen for everyone, but the added elements of tragedy and trauma change one's world in ways like no other. We don't know the details of Annabelle's tragedy—though we have good guesses—for quite a while. Teenager Annabelle is running from Seattle to Washington, D. C., trying to outrun her grief. I picked up the book thinking that it might give me insight into why people do these runs for a cause; it did. The story is told in the present tense as she runs; we learn through flashbacks about why Annabelle feels so guilty and powerless.
She's at the local hamburger joint and her PTSD is triggered and she starts running until she gets to the next town, with no intent and no plan; running means she's doing something, even if it's crazy. She just starts running, because she does track and that's her thing. Her family ends up supporting her decision and her grandpa follows along in his RV; Annabelle's family provide the perspective and comic relief necessary in a book that deals with dark material.
This is a young adult novel that gives a glimpse into the mind of a contemporary young woman in high school. The hormone-driven angst and bounce between hope and despair of adolescence is further exacerbated in our modern world, where nowadays even suburban and rural schools are fenced like prisons and predators stalk the halls (though that has always happened). Annabelle learns a lot on her journey, and is finally able to come to terms with the fact that her life will never be the same.
Interactions with her grandpa and people they meet along the way balance the grueling days of running and bleeding and Annabelle's circular thoughts, widening her world. Even though precious opportunities have been lost, love still surrounds her, and Annabelle finds the strength and resolve to reach out and live in hope again.
And I found out that people do this kind of thing because even when you feel powerless, you need to do something. Recommended.

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