Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen


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 Holly's entire life was filled with conflict and tragedy.  After her dad died, Holly and her mom moved from one ratty apartment to another.  When Holly's mom got fired for stealing from her workplace, they soon became homeless.  Holly never really cared about that.  Even the old van was home as long as her mother was there with her arms wrapped tightly around her.  That was before her mom met Eddie. Holly's mom started staying out late  - often leaving Holly alone all night in the van.  She also started acting funny, and her eyes were always shiny.  Holly soon learned that she would have to take care of herself to survive.  Not long after meeting Eddie, Holly's mom died from a drug overdose in her arms.  Now Holly truly was all alone. Don't be fooled into thinking Holly's life would become better after her mom was gone.  At least her mom loved her - though she loved heroin more than she ever loved Holly.  Holly is bounced from one foster home to another.  She doesn't want to trust another adult.  She feels like she can't let her guard down again. Holly reaches her breaking point when she is sent to live with The Benders.  Her foster father wants to be "closer" to Holly.  Holly can tell by the way he stares at her that his thoughts aren't fatherly.  Her foster mother steals money from her husband, and then blames it on Holly.  Holly spends her nights cold, alone, and hungry - locked in a dark, damp, dirty laundry room with only a journal to keep her company.  At first Holly is angry that her teacher was forcing her to write in a stupid journal.  Soon, however, Holly finds comfort in the journal pages as she begins telling her story.  The story will haunt you.  The pain Holly feels is achingly evident, and you will find yourself wondering how she continues to survive. Holly decides to run away - this time for good.  Life on the streets cannot be any worse than the abusive home she lives in now... All the pain she's been through... nothing can shock her.  Life alone has to be better than this. Unfortunately for Holly, she's wrong.  Things can get much worse.  Reading this book may make the problems you have in your life seem very small in comparison to Holly's.  Despite the sadness the reader feels while reading about Holly's experiences, the ending will bring you comfort.  Holly will at last find peace and happiness.