AJ’s grandfather has always been the one to keep his unusual family together, so when he dies things start to unravel at the edges.
AJ is worried about his parents but they don’t really seem to notice. In order to deal with his grief and to keep his anxiety at bay, AJ does what he and his grandfather did best: running. Round and round the Olympic Park, aiming for the nationals, running to escape, AJ only seems to be heading ever closer to disaster. Running On Empty is a beautiful book about false starts and emotional journeys, with hope as the ultimate finishing line.
I thoroughly enjoyed this thoughtful little book.
Running on Empty is the story of AJ. AJ lives in East London, close to the Olympic park and is a runner. AJ's grandfather dies early on in the book and the story the follows shows how AJ deals with life without his rock.
AJ has such a tough time because his parents both have learning difficulties. They are kind and loving people who work but they heavily relied on AJs grandfather to keep things ticking over as he looked after the running of the household and bills. AJ suddenly finds himself needing to be the one in charge of these things without a clue of how to do it or a clear idea of who could help him as extended family members seem to busy with their own stuff to help. Seeing his struggle as he's trying to manage a household budget and ensure the family has electricity is heart breaking at times.
For me the book is important because it looks at life in a real working class family who are not rich. So much fiction feature families who are apparently comfortably well off to the point where money is not thought of or spoken about but is obviously there. AJ's struggle in the book when he needs new trainers but has no way of being able to afford them really got to me and really showcases that divide within society that absolutely exists between families who are comfortable and those who really struggle despite working hard.
Such an important read. I will be recommending far and wide.