I Run is the story of a woman battling the demons of her childhood, an addictive personality and an injured body in an attempt to get her inner life together.
I always thought that running was a healthy thing, but for Sally it’s much more complex than that. She uses running to run from her feelings and to punish herself because she feels worthless – the legacy of a childhood of abuse. She also knows that she’s f***ed up and that she won’t be healed until she faces the past. But facing the past is painful. Everything in this book is painful because author El Farris writes excellent and passionate prose that makes you really feel the character’s anguish and turmoil. So, this is not a book I enjoyed. How can you enjoy someone’s pain? It’s not an entertaining read; it’s a painful read, because you’re reading about someone’s pain. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a good read, on the contrary, it is a very good read if you want to get inside the head of someone like Sally. In fact, it’s a thought provoking and deeply moving character study – the kind of great art that comes from a tortured soul.
A book that focuses so completely on self reflection can easily become repetitive and lacking in external action, however. In this case, the author walks right on the edge. We are told countless times how much Sally hurts physically and mentally, and we repeatedly witness her relentless self-destructive thoughts. This repetition can be seen as a skillful way to reflect Sally’s obsessive nature and give the reader a real taste of how trapped and out of control she feels, or it can be seen as angst-ridden, over-writing. Where you stand on this probably depends on how you are feeling at the time of reading and whether you prefer action driven novels or character driven ones. This is definitely the character driven kind, but though it has little in the way of action as such, a tribute to the author’s skill is that the story has a real sense of winning battles and moving towards a goal.
One thing is for sure; the passion in the writing makes you feel Sally’s frustration, neediness and confusion intensely. It also gives you a real sense of the strength she had to have to over come the residue of her past and defeat her self-destructive tendencies.
Perhaps the real beauty of I Run is its hope. Sally runs despite her physical and mental difficulties. She aims to run a marathon, but she also aims to get her life together and she never gives up on that aim. To see how she achieves this should have a therapeutic effect on readers who have experienced similar situations. For those lucky enough not to have experienced what Sally has, it will rouse your compassion for those who have.
I particularly like how Sally uses inner light to dissolve the darkness inside her. It’s powerful and very effective imagery, and though for Sally it is filling herself with God’s love, the image of light dissolving the darkness of negativity is one that I’m familiar with from my Buddhist studies. This technique is something that all readers can take from this book and use to help defeat their own demons, and that makes the book more than just a story, it makes it healing.
In summary, this is a book for those who like to feel intensely and who would like to know what may hide behind the facades of their friends or neighbors. It’s not for those looking for a bit of entertainment, it’s for those looking for education.
I had a great deal of difficulty in deciding on the star rating for this book because I can see how good it is, but at the same time, I did find the emotionalism a little repetitive and there were times when I wanted the pacing (not the running) to speed up, so for the sake of others like me, I give it 4 stars though for many it will undoubtedly be 5 . I preferred Farris’s other book, Ripple, because it had a stronger plot and more external action.
I received this book free of charge from the author in return for an honest review. I am an Awesome Indies reviewer.
See it on Kindle US here,
and on Kindle UK here.