Time for my first ARC Review! I picked up Hit the Ground Running because the cover was just too pretty. And it’s a map and I can’t resist maps. Really, I can’t. Something to do with geography or history and I’m hooked.
A road trip centered around a kid evading foster care? I can read that.
Goodreads Synopsis – Sixteen-year-old Dee and her seven-year-old brother, Eddie, have been on their own for six weeks. Their father has seemingly vanished into the baking Arizona desert. Their money is drying up and the rent is coming due, but it’s a visit from a social worker and the prospect of being separated from Eddie that scares Dee enough to flee. She dupes her brother into packing up and embarking on the long road trip to Canada, their birthplace and former home. Lacking a driver’s license and facing a looming interrogation at the border, Dee rations their money and food as they burn down the interstate in their ancient, decrepit car.
Hit the Ground Running was a quick read, which I wasn’t expecting. The story was fast paced, tense, and relatable.
Allison Hughes did a great job describing characters. They were all realistic and easy to love.
I appreciated how Dee worked to take care of her younger brother and keep herself together at the same time. She seemed incredibly mature for 16, but it was easy to see what matured her. Yet, Dee wasn’t too over the top. She was tense, but funny. She loved her brother and was desperate for home.
The real treasure of the story was Eddie, the younger brother. His school stories were just hilarious. His interaction with Dee and other people were so cute. Be prepared to learn a lot about reptiles, rocks, and math from Eddie.
Another joy was the atmosphere. You could feel the Arizona heat, the desperation of the desert, the tense driving. The driving descriptions were easily my favorite part of the book. The descriptions were masterfully woven into the plot, not overbearing, but a vital part of the story.
I also thought the simplicity and style of the book was a plus. It was a fast read, and you always knew where the plot was headed.
I felt like there were a lot of loose ends. The story doesn’t feel resolved. There’s a lot more going on than a road trip, and yet the book abruptly ends. Maybe it was too messy to tie up, too many details to work through. But the ending was unsatisfying.
I also felt like there were some strange parts of their trip that didn’t add up. I’ll not list them here for spoilers, but some stuff felt a little over the top.
The story isn’t a character driven story, but relies purely on the quick plot. Perhaps if the characters grew with the story, the weakness of the plot wouldn’t be noticeable. Otherwise, it’s an easy fun read.
This book is really geared towards middle-school, so I was surprised at the language. I understand the pressure Dee is under, but it still seemed incongruous with the overall style and story.
This book is incredibly short, so it’s hard to find favorite quotes. Especially since there was not that much character development or significant dialogue.
I did LOVE the description of driving. It was on point – a newbie driver, the back aches, the tense set of your shoulders. As a fairly inexperienced driver, this was true. Driving is super stressful. SCARY. And it makes your shoulders HURT.
I’m giving Hit the Ground Running 2 stars. I wanted to give the story 3 stars, but I just couldn’t. If the plot was just a bit more fleshed out, it might have been a 3 star book. While I wouldn’t read the book again, I would love a sequel giving us more details on what happened to Dee’s dad. And more reptile facts from Eddie.
I received this ARC copy via NetGalley for my honest review. I was not paid to write this review.