In Ruskin Bond’s travel memoir, Tales of the Open Road, he recounts an episode where he and his friend decide to run away to live on Bond’s Uncle Jim’s ship.
“Everyone has wanted to run away, at some time in his life: if not from a bad school or an unhappy home, then from something equally unpleasant,” Bond says…
‘Running away seems to be in the best of traditions. Huck Finn did it, so did Master Copperfield and Oliver Twist. So did Kim. Various enterprising young men have run away to sea.’
Books about running away often have a very cathartic effect on me, especially if I’m reading in order to block something frustrating or annoying that life is handing me at the time. These books basically take escapist reads to the next level:
Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Maribeth Klein, an overworked mother attempting to balance her work and home, suffers from a heart attack. Upon realizing that recovering from the episode and getting adequate rest is going to be impossible with her mother, husband, and children badgering her, she runs away to a smaller town. A delightful read, it gave me (neither overworked, nor a parent) some serious empathy feels.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Set in 1960, The Girls follows Evie, a teenager who runs away from her mother and home. Evie is bored and frustrated by her life at home, and enthralled by Suzanne, an older girl who is part of a secret and violent cult. The book is fast-paced and mesmerizing in its own way, but might not resonate with the reader on the running-away level.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Maddy, a young girl allergic to the outside world, is kept in an airtight, monitored environment by her mother, until she meets Olly, a boy who shifts next door to her. Olly makes her realize just how much she is missing by staying locked indoors, and awakens in her the need to run away.
Verdict: Buy, along with a box of tissues
Fence by Ila Arab Mehta
Set in Gujarat, India, this will make you rethink the idea of running away because one is a bored child. Fateema, the protagonist, is a woman with strong beliefs about education and religion, and leaves home to pursue her goals, in the face of her own brother, who turns to terrorism.
PS: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is a book to look out for in March 2017, where we follow a young couple forced to flee their home and country and become immigrants, in the face of terrorism. A definite buy.