THOSE WHO RUN by David J. Murphy


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A girl on the run from an abusive father unwillingly winds up embroiled in an illegal scheme, from which she’ll need help from her friends to escape.

Zelena hasn’t had it easy: after her mother fell ill, her father became violent and abusive. Zelena hopped the first bus she could and eked out an existence as a waitress everywhere from St. Louis to Seattle, picking up stakes as soon as she felt her father might be getting closer. While in Seattle, she falls for a young man named Zach, who eventually becomes involved in drugs. She flees his drug-using ways to start fresh in San Bernardino only to receive a phone call from a friend alerting her that Zach thinks she may be in danger. Eventually, Zach turns up murdered, and Zelena returns to the home of her aunt during an annual city race in an attempt to find some kind of safe haven. She reconnects with an old high school sweetheart named Ricky and makes a new friend in Garrett, but the appearance of an uncouth man named Walter Slater at a family party threatens to destroy Zelena’s newfound sense of calm. Will Zelena ever find peace, or is she now in the sights of a vast criminal enterprise? Much of the story takes place via exposition in a thoughtful structure, albeit in a somewhat slow-moving narrative. The prose can occasionally feel clunky or hasty—“And now here he was at Aunt Mary’s 4th of July party. So, what to do next”—and incidental characters like Zach are a bit sketchy. Nevertheless, the story functions as a workable YA thriller, replete with the lessons of friendship, honesty, and determination. Zelena’s winning personality is flecked with hints of the difficulties she encountered on the road, making her a fairly fleshed-out character.

An intriguing YA thriller with a spunky but gold-hearted heroine, a cast of supportive, decent friends, and the twin backdrops of a mysterious criminal enterprise and abusive family members.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


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