In this action-packed debut novel, a teenage girl escapes an abusive home, fists flying, to conquer the world on her own terms.
Overweight, lonely, and living with her drug-addicted mother and terrifying stepfather, 16-year-old Bridget makes a terrible mistake that forces her to go on the lam, running from San Diego to Denver to the D.C. area and all the way to France and Italy. Along the way, she changes her identity, becomes a Buddhist, studies martial arts, learns to speak French, and falls in love, but her troubled past may destroy her future. Although much of the plot unfolds like an extended Hollywood training montage, the sequence of events is nonetheless exciting. Bridget (aka “Lilye” or “Sofia Conti”), becomes a svelte fighting machine, fending off rapists, petty thieves, and Mexican drug lords. Reed injects small doses of realism into this fantasy by balancing the action scenes with candid descriptions of the heroine’s mundane thoughts and actions. As she speeds off in her getaway car to bury a body, for example, Bridget drives slowly to avoid getting pulled over and even stops for a chicken dinner at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. The character’s sense of humor shines through her haunted demeanor, creating wonderful layers of guilt and hope that unfold as she transforms from a victim of circumstance to master of her fate: “I thought that if I looked deep enough inside me, all I’d find would be baloney, both nutritionally and metaphorically,” she says. But at a Buddhist temple in Denver, she vows to live for the present moment—a philosophy that serves her well when more danger and heartbreak ensue. Lionel, her shy but brilliant boyfriend, is equally complex, if a little too trusting. Bridget doesn’t tell him her whole story, which will keep readers on edge, waiting for her lies to blow up in her face. The prose is often raw, with a significant number of typos, but what it lacks in polish, it makes up for in personality. Bridget’s voice is unique, and her struggles beautifully demonstrate that “experience gives you more, not less.”
A rough-and-tumble heroine is the highlight of this enjoyable read.