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Runaround Hardcover – March 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Set in 1960s Falls of Rough, KY, this story chronicles the heartbreak of 11-year-old Sassy Thompkins. Desperate for romance à la her trashy magazine Love Confessions, Sassy chases after local bad boy Boon Chisholm, ignoring signs that her older sister, Lula, may be Boon's target. Sassy and Lula uncover Boon's philandering ways as they discover that their mother, believed dead, actually fled to California after frequent extramarital affairs. Disturbing is the best word for this novel. All stereotypes about Kentucky weddings aside, having Sassy's father call her a "tart" and no better than her mother creates a jarring picture of developing femininity for readers of Sassy's age. Sassy and her sister are violent, selfish, and barely likable, and the family forgiveness scene at the end of the novel can't be believed, given the characters' former antagonisms. Sidebars at the beginning of each chapter, presumably from Sassy's magazines, give advice that shows women to be scheming and empty headed. "Keep him guessing and never tell him what you're really feeling. That's how to snag a man." The kicker comes when Boon faces Sassy and says, "You're one hell of a kisser….I'm just not attracted to you." The plot hinges on clichéd depictions of girls, deleterious to readers of any age. Better books for love-swept readers include Carol Lynch Williams's My Angelica and Mavis Jukes's Cinderella 2000 (both Delacorte, 1999).—Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* "He would walk right in the door, take her in his arms, and tell her he loved her and couldn't live one more second without her." Motherless Stasy, 11, has a crush on gorgeous Boon. She dreams that he wants to kiss her, and she's angry that he's really kissing her mean, magazine-pretty older sister, Lula. With Mama dead and Daddy preoccupied with his small tobacco plot in 1960s Kentucky, Stasy has no one to talk to, except the kind housekeeper, who lectures her about acting like a nice young lady. It's not sex Stasy needs to know about (everyone learned about that in health class). She wants to know how to handle falling in love, so she turns to the Love Confessions magazines she sneaks home from Methodist church camp, which are filled with dreamy quotes about flowers and candlelight. The story is laugh-out-loud funny, but it is also a timeless tale of anger, grief, and love, with surprising twists in plot and character that will break your heart. The sisters' realistic relationship challenges formula. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 117 pages
  • Publisher: Front Street, Incorporated; First Edition edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932425837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932425833
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,161,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hailed as "a strong new voice in children's literature" by Kirkus Reviews, Helen Hemphill's debut novel Long Gone Daddy won the Teddy Award for young adult fiction from the Writers' League of Texas and was named to the New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age. Booklist named her novel Runaround a Top Ten Youth Romance for 2007, and Book Links offered it as one of 2007's Best New Books for the Classroom. Her most recent book for middle school readers, The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones, was the recipient of the Virginia M. Law Award for the "most distinguished book of 2008 for young adults" by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library; and was named to VOYA's 2009 Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, Best Books 2009, Nebraska Library Association; Best Children's Books, Bank State College; South Dakota Young Adult Reading Program List, Kansas State Reading Circle 2009 Recommended Reading List; and to the Winter 2008-09 Kid's Indie Next list.

Helen is a graduate of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. Visit her on the web at www.helenhemphill.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Set in the 1960s, RUNAROUND is the story of Sassy, an aptly-named young girl growing up in Kentucky. Sassy's got a tendency to speak her mind, especially when fighting with her beautiful older sister Lula, and she will kick and scream if she doesn't get her way. Even though she's an opinionated spitfire, she'll never admit how lonely she feels.

"I just want to know about boys! I don't have a mama to talk to! How else am I going to find out things if nobody tells me?"

Sassy wants to know what love truly is, but who can she talk to about boys? Her mama passed away when she was just a baby, and she hasn't any close friends. The two adults in her life are her daddy, who is hard-working but sometimes gruff, and Miss Dallas, who looks after the girls while their father is working. She sets her eye on Boon, a boy closer to her sister's age, determined to make him her boyfriend. After all, he did smile and tell her:

"You got a good heart, Sassy girl."

Due out in March and geared towards ages 8 and up, RUNAROUND by Helen Hemphill will draw readers in from page one. I could see Sassy running around that little town of hers as clear as day. She reminded me a great deal of Addie, the leading little lady from the novel Addie Pray, better known as the film Paper Moon. Sassy's spunk may get her in trouble with Daddy, but it also will win the hearts of readers. What an absolutely adorable story!
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Format: Hardcover
Miss Dallas takes care of 11-year-old Sassy and her beautiful older sister Lula. She runs their household and is a sort of mother figure as their own mother died of cancer soon after Sassy was born, or so the family story goes.

Sassy reads 'Love Confessions' magazine. Her father is reserved and never talks about their mother so she questions Miss Dallas about romance and her parents' relationship. "You're in love with love," Miss Dallas tells her,and indeed, that is the heart of this jewel of a story.

Snips of advice and passages from Sassy's magazines begin many of the chapters. When Sassy encounters handsome Boon Chisholm at the grocery store she develops a head over heels crush on him even though he is much older than her and is from the wrong side of the social tracks.

There are some wonderfully funny and painful moments as Sassy and Lula learn about guys and life. You do not want to get into a haircut fight with these sisters.

Hemphill evokes the time, 1964, and place, Falls of Rough, Kentucky, beautifully. Cherry Cokes-to-go are served in paper cups, screen doors slam and Elvis sings on the record player. The details are part of the story and never forced. The cover art is an old Benday dot style, romance comic illustration.

Sassy and Lula, their father, Miss Dallas and even the feckless Boon are characters the reader cares about. In their own way all the players in this story are sorting out their lives and hoping for relationships that give meaning to life. (It is nice to see a story with a loving father too.)

I think middle schoolers will find much that resonates in this sweet sweet story.
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Format: Paperback
Sassy is only 11 but she can't wait to grow up and be noticed by boys. Especially since her older sister Lula seems to attract the kind of attention Sassy wants. She figures if she can convince the best-looking boy in town, Boon Chisolm, to be her boyfriend she will be one up on Lula.

Runaround by Helen Hemphill is a small book that crams in many storylines--in a good way. Set in a tobacco-growing area sometime around the first Surgeon General's warning against smoking and the beginning of food stamps for the needy, Runaround touches on the plight of farmers of the era and the needy of all time. It harkens back to the days of lazy summers and having a country store down the road kids could walk to and buy groceries on credit.

Sassy and Lula are motherless, and they are cared for by Miss Dallas, a woman who has never had children and who is reluctant to answer Sassy's questions about love and romance. So Sassy gleans most of her ideas of romance from reading True Confessions magazine, something her Daddy doesn't approve of. Each chapter of Runaround opens with a quote from what appears to be True Confessions articles, and it's easy to see how Sassy could get mixed up about love and romance if that's what she thinks of as the norm.

If I have any reservations about Runaround, it's that it brings up many issues that it doesn't address in-depth enough. There are issues of class, sisters hurting and supporting each other, family secrets, and difficulties with family communication. And I thought Sassy's tantrums were more appropriate for a toddler than an 11-year-old who should be able to control her anger and actions a bit more than she does. But those issues should give mother-daughter book clubs a lot to talk about. I recommend Runaround for book clubs with girls aged ten to thirteen.
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