Review: Heart of a Runaway Girl, by Trevor Wiltzen
'Beyond the riveting suspense of the murder investigation, what struck me as genius in this book is its voice. It's unique and fresh, and unlike anything I've seen before.'
Heart of a Runaway Girl is a breath of fresh air. As far as crime and murder investigation novels go, I only ever read Agatha Christie, so my standard is high. But this book did not disappoint.
Mabel Davison is a motel and restaurant owner in a small town, waitress by day a single mom to her two sons and teenage niece by night. When, one fine day, the body of a young
girl is found in town, her Black boyfriend is immediately arrested and accused of her murder. But Mabel's instincts kick in, telling her the young man is innocent and she embarks on a mission to discover the truth.
Mabel Davison is one of these modern day heroins you wish you knew in real life. A woman full of the kind of courage we barely come across nowadays, but with a vulnerability that's raw, real and relatable. The wonder woman of modern times, if ever I saw one.
Beyond the riveting suspense of the murder investigation, what struck me as genius in this book is its voice. It's unique and fresh, and unlike anything I've seen before. It's full of these observations about the world and the people in it that make the narrative all the more poignant and colourful.
There are some other gems in this book, too: the underlying current of racial prejudice, the sometimes claustrophobic depiction of small town life and the portrayal of of the community's despair in front of the rule of its dangerous drug lord. It all reminds us that the best way to ensure the status quo lives on, no matter how lethal and unfair, is to never challenge it.
The book is stunning and its main character one of a kind. A highly recommended read.