“This book is a love letter to grunge music,” the author Lee Matthew Goldberg said himself in the acknowledgement, and it’s so true. For us who are old enough to have experienced the 1990s ourselves this book was an amazing walk down memory lane. It was also such a poignant, heartbreaking and emotional book about a troubled teen dealing with her demons, about hitting rock bottom and finding herself along an epic road trip. Ultimately, it’s a book about healing, seeing the good in people and believing in yourself.
Nico’s older sister died of a brain aneurysm one morning just before her 17th birthday, and left Nico and her parents devastated with grief. Nico also believed that she would face the same destiny and while being neglected by her parents, she spiraled down the wrong path; drinking, smoking, skipping school and acting out. Eventually, she even took her friend’s advice and ran away, going on a road trip to check off the items on her bucket list and see the house of her idol, Kurt Curtain, before she’d face death like her sister.
I struggled a bit at first to root for Nico. I felt for her and could see the strain she was under and the demons she had to deal with, but I nevertheless couldn’t really stomach the rude way she treated people who were trying to help her, or the way she threw herself at any guy that came in her way. But after a while she found her way in to my heart somehow. And she did show some amazing character growth along the way. I’m also a sucker for all the music references and the places she visited along her road trip.
This was a truly heartbreaking book at times. Nico went through so much, and there were so many ups and downs, so much pain and grief, and the real and honest way it explored mental illness, drug abuse, self-harm, parental neglect and recklessness made it very tough and sometimes upsetting to read. I had the heart in my mouth almost all the way through, so scared for what crazy thing Nico would do next or what someone might do to her. But it was also a book that had so much joy and magical experiences, like learning to surf and ticking off some of Nico’s bucket list items (trying not to spoil anything here, so keeping it very vague…) and so many people that reached out to her out of goodness. In the end, I wouldn’t call it a sad story, but rather a raw and honest coming-of-age-story that was also full of hope.
All in all, Runaway Train was a wild and wonderful ride. I had to take breaks reading it when things got too intense, but I already know that it will become one of those stories that stays with me for a long time. The writing style had such a wonderful flow and authenticity, and the concept with the chapter titles being the songs on Nico’s mixtape was brilliant in the way each song matched the mood of the chapter. I’m so happy for this lover letter to Kurt Cobain and grunge music, and believe that this book will make a new generation discover the wonderful music I grew up listening to.
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours and NetGalley for the ARC and blog tour invitation for this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez