Henson, Heather. Making the Run. Harper Teen, 2003. ISBN 978-0064473392 240 pp. $
In fast paced nearly poetic prose, first time novelist Henson presents shutterbug Lulu, a constant observer who sees the events of a her life as series of captioned photographs. A camera hangs around her neck even when it is too dark to take pictures, as she uses the lens to craft a frame of reference for her troubled life: a mother dead at a young age, a distant and critical father, bouts of bad grades, and shoplifting, and more recently, joyriding, drinking and drug experimentation. When Jay, her half brother’s friend and bandmate pulls back into town, Lu’s first crush becomes her first lover as she develops an intimate relationship with a man ten years her senior that her dad disapproves of.
As Lu’s eighteenth birthday and high school graduation approach, Lu begins to think that Jay may be her ticket out of small town life. But the two are at odds, in spite of their attraction; just as she is preparing to flee Kentucky, he has returned to make a home; just as she is ready to settle into a relationship, he is not committed.
Henson cleverly uses the metaphor of the road to show Lu’s twists, turns and detours, and the tragedy it takes to put her – and her relationship with her father – back on the right path.
This was an unputdownable novel. We see Lu and her best friend Ginny make bad choices and know something has to give, but we are unable to look away. Naïve readers may be surprised at the turn of events, but Henson manages to make the ending satisfying and believable in spite of the “no other options” feel.
Recommended for mature readers; pair with Keizer’s God of Beer (HarperCollins, 2002).