When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister
A rich, bighearted debut that takes us from working-class Staten Island in the wake of the September 11th attacks to moneyed London a decade later, revealing a story of loss, motherhood, and love.
As the Twin Towers collapse, Gigi Stanislawski flees her office building and escapes lower Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry. Among the crying, ash-covered, and shoeless passengers, Gigi, unbelievably, finds someone she recognizes–Harry Harrison, a British man and a regular at her favorite coffee shop. Gigi brings Harry to her parents’ house, where they watch the television replay the planes crashing for hours, and she waits for the phone call that will never come: the call from Frankie, her younger brother.
Ten years later, Gigi, now a single mother consumed with bills and unfulfilled ambitions, meets Harry, again by chance, and they fall deeply, headlong in love. But their move to London and their new baby–which Gigi hoped would finally release her from the past–leave her feeling isolated, raw, and alone with her grief. As Gigi comes face-to-face with the anguish of her brother’s death and her rage at the unspoken pain of motherhood, she must somehow find the light amid all the darkness. Startlingly honest and shot through with unexpected humor, When I Ran Away is an unforgettable first novel about love–for our partners, our children, our mothers, and ourselves–pushed to its outer limits.
March 30th, 2021
Domestic Life Fiction/Motherhood Fiction
Read Your Copy:
When a book comes out of almost nowhere and ends up being one you know you will think about forever…
I picked up #WhenIRanAway by Ilona Bannister after I saw it pop up as a new book release this week. It wasn’t at all on my reading radar, which is kind of hard to believe now…
Sometimes that happens with books. Some of them will be all over #bookstagram, months before their release. And others, like #ThePush, trickle their way in and then take over like wildfire.
Just from seeing a couple of my trusted book source’s feedback this week (thank you @michellenputney & @mrsboomreads), I know this is going to be all over the place soon too. It’s gritty and takes on loss, complicated families, motherhood, PPD, and marriage.
When I Ran Away is heavy, but it also is hilarious, and just so real. With perfectly imperfect characters that are so wonderfully detailed, you totally picture them so vividly in your mind. I loved Gigi, and her friends and Johnny, and writing this all out makes me want to read it again and I am NOT a re-reader in general.
Trust me, if this sounds like this book might be for you too, you must read it. And then come back and talk about it with me!! I am discussing this one over on my Instagram page @genthebookworm and I would love to have you join in on the conversation!
I purchased this book at our local bookstore, Phoenix Books.
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