When I Ran Away

Ilona Bannister. Doubleday, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-54617-1
Bannister’s emotionally raw debut offers an unflinching glimpse of new motherhood. When readers first encounter native New Yorker Gigi Harrison in London, she’s leaving her English husband, Harry, and their two young children for a seedy hotel. In between answering texts from an increasingly panicked Harry, Gigi gradually recounts what made her leave Harry, starting with their first encounter 15 years before on the Staten Island Ferry, as both were fleeing Manhattan on 9/11. Harry’s kindness after Gigi and her working-class family learn her 19-year-old brother, Frankie, died in the attack endears him to her, but the two eventually lose touch. In 2012, when their paths cross again, Gigi has become an adoptive mom to Johnny, the infant son of Frankie’s former girlfriend. Gigi and Harry fall in love, and Gigi reluctantly follows Harry back to London and into an increasingly lonely realm of homesickness and functional alcoholism, especially after the traumatic birth of their son. Some of Gigi’s musings read like a retread of the “mummy wars” debates, as she reflects on a friend who lost her career after having a child, but Bannister effectively captures Gigi’s awareness of cultural and class divides. This poignant story feels genuine. Agent: Alice Lutyens, Curtis Brown Group. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/04/2021
Release date: 03/30/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-385-54618-8
Book - 978-0-593-08176-1
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-593-39653-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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