Reviews

Run, Rebel, by Manjeet Mann

basicquartz's review

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2.0

CW: Alcoholism, domestic abuse
Characters: Amber, her best friends David and Tara (a crystal fix), her parents, her sister Ruby
Plot: Amber lives with her two parents. She and her mother need to escape (or "rebel") from her abusive husband. Meanwhile, Amber struggles with letting go of resentment towards an old friend, Gemma, feeling left out by her friends Tara and David, her crush on David, wanting to compete in track 200m against her father's wishes and missing her sister Ruby who moved out to an arranged marriage. This novel explores issues related to feminism, gender roles and honour killings and racism as Amber is Indian, and she feels the disappointment of not being a boy while being shamed for hanging out with friends and running.
Opinion: Some of these poems were very hard-hitting and impactful, and is a structurally interesting choice to portray trauma and systemic issues. However some of the poetry was not as powerful.

leola7's review

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challenging inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

mrshillier's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

flamingopie's review

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4.0

Run Rebel is a verse novel by Manjeet Mann, and a book I was immensely excited to read. It was described as the story of a young girl standing up to her abusive father, and fighting for her freedom and independence in the only way she knows how: on the running track.

Here's one thing that is important to understand for the rest of my review:
The story was broken up into titled poems, ranging anywhere from four pages to two lines. This allowed for gorgeous descriptions of buildings and characters, internal dialogue and thoughts, but at some points makes the story fractured and hard to follow. It also leaves the story prone to tone shifts sharp enough to give you whiplash.

The book started off almost painfully slow. I was tempted to give up so many times in the first 70 pages, but I continued reading, and by the end, my opinion of the book was completely changed (well, almost).

The prologue sets up a dark tone (quickly abandoned) as well as the true nature of Amber's Father. Little titbits about Amber's troubled home life are woven throughout the story, and the poems describing how the world and her troubles melt away whilst running are stunning. There was a four page poem called "Privilege", which was both eye-opening and moving, the first hints at the quality of the book in those painful 70 pages.

After that, as Amber explores the stages of a revolution, artfully weaving the school plot with Amber's home life, the story really picks up pace. It doesn't shy away from heavy emotions and shows how everyone has good and bad in them (although in the case of Amber's abusive Father, that good is few and far between).
SpoilerAmber takes out her anger on other, innocent, people throughout the course of the book, becoming a proper bully, the sort that would be an antagonist in a cheesy teen movie, but she makes amends, and the ending shows that her actions do have consequences and that her victim doesn't have to forgive her.


In short, the abuse Amber faced at the hands of her Father explains her actions but does not excuse them, a very important distinction to make.

Amber's description of the deterioration of her relationship with her sister, Ruby, was heartfelt and genuinely made me emotional, as was the stellar depiction of a panic attack in poem form on page 112. The fact that this book was a verse novel was damning at times, but not so much at others. Amber has a crush on David, and reading her inner monologue about how glorious he is for pages upon pages (when it made no difference to the overall plot) really starts to grate on you.

I will include some samples that expertly made me want to hit my head against a wall (if this was the effect Manjeet was aiming for, I commend her on her success):

I'd never seen
eyes
hair
eyes
mouth
cheekbones
face
mouth
eyes
cheekbones
eyes
mouth
mouth
mouth
mouth
like his before.



and I can't tell Tara
that lately
I find myself wondering
where he is and
what he's doing
more than I used to,
more than I should.
More like

all. The. Time.



sit close

look into his eyes

watch his mouth

make him laugh

touch the top of his arm

put my head on his shoulder

twirl my hair

memorize his scent-




Maybe I could sit through the pages and pages of this if David actually had a character. They constantly talk about how David is different from other boys, but they don't show that. He's emotionally constipated and doesn't know when to stop or start pushing Amber's boundaries (always seeming to do the wrong thing in a way that I think is meant to be endearing but just isn't),
Spoilerwhich ends with Amber being caught by an Auntie whilst going to McDonald, which leads to... her balding, illiterate Father threatening to kill her and dispose of the parts in the bin like "the Man across the Road"
.



Spoiler.Gradually following Amber, her sister, and her mother start standing up against Amber's abusive, controlling Father was one of the most satisfying things I have ever read. The slow build-up, timed to match the 8 stages of a revolution she studied in school was expertly written (even if some of the individual poems left a little to be desired).
.



In short, this is not something I would have sought out, far outside the realm of the books I usually read. If you had told me, when I was still reading the first 70 pages of the book, that I would actually enjoy this, I would have laughed. This grounded verse novel was a fascinating read, albeit a bit frustrating at times. As I close off this review, I want to briefly apologise to my friends, who had to listen to me complain about this book for a good three days, followed by me raving about the brilliance of its ending for a few more.



I give this book a solid 3.5 stars. Check it out if you're willing to wait through slow build up for the promise of an immensely satisfying ending, but if you prefer more fantastical stories told in prose over short (sometimes strange) poems, this probably isn't for you.

niibooksy's review

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5.0

I was at the edge of my seat! Such an important story told is such a beautiful way.

deb_reads_books's review

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5.0

What an incredible story, so powerfully read by the author via Audible UK. Written in verse, it tells the story of Amber, trapped by her father and desperate to rebel via the athletics field. Gut-wrenching but empowering at the same time, it is another story of why feminism and women's rights have to be fought for every day...

amazingkez14's review

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5.0

Run, Rebel is the fourth novel in verse that I have read. I thought this book was absolutely astounding. The use of repetition, bold text and different font size had me gripped. Since it was set in a nearby area to mine, I found it was very easy for me to relate and understand what was going on. This is such an empowering book which I will surely recommend to all my peers. I think my favourite character was Surinder Rai (the mother) as we not only see her struggles with an abusive partner, being illiterate and struggling to be independent , we also get to see her journey and her confidence grow which must make her daughter so proud. I rate this book 5/5 stars and am truly excited to discover and read more of Manjeet Mann's work.

piperzielinski's review against another edition

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5.0

4.5

This was wonderful, almost cried on the train.

earthheartspages's review

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4.0

4/5 A story of a girl with an alcoholic abusive dad and a mum trying to find her identity in his shadow. Her only escape are her friends and running. Or can she rebel?

This book is so reminding me of Rupi Kaur's poetry. The emotional passages are full of trauma, hurt and hope. It is about an immigrant family struggling to live in a new environment and mainly about a man too proud to change.

It resonated with me deeply, because I can relate to the trauma on a deep level. It is a beautiful hard-hitting book about domestic abuse and about revolution. About how the way out of the darkness is difficult, but in the end it's possible. It's worth it.

I highly recommend to read this physically, because the book works with visual ques to break up the text.

hazel94's review

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5.0

This book is beautifully written and touches on very important topics present in the Asian Community.