December 6, 2013

Sage's Blog Tour: I Run by E. L. Farris

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Do we ever fully fix what's broken inside? Should we? I could carefully exhume it, examine it, subject it to analysis and gentle repair; or perhaps I need to dredge it up in a violent catharsis, hoping I survive the emotional torrents and emerge from it a better woman. Some days I want to shove the darkness into a cabinet labeled Remove at Your Own Risk , and leave it for a later date.
-from I Run by E. L. Farris

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 I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


When Sally Lane Brookman gets hit by a Metro bus, it shatters her suburban world. But it does more than just damage her body; when she begins the long and painful process of physical recovery, she realizes that she's broken in more places than any doctor could ever see.

Confronting addiction, abuse, mental illness, and a hell she can't escape, Sally drags her past into her present and desperately tries to flee both. It's not until she puts her future in danger that she realizes it's finally time to slow down.

 With exuberant energy, humor, and sometimes painful honesty, the quirky Sally takes the reader along on a modern odyssey: a sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, and ultimately inspiring journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

This book was one of the most difficult books I've read this year, but it was also one of the most satisfying. Farris paints a broken picture of abuse through Sally Brookman, an adult victim of child abuse and neglect who has personified her pain through "Little Sally", an image of herself she carries through her adult life. Battling her feelings by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, Sally literally copes with everything she feels through running which is the only way she is able to be free of her psyche. 

This book actually felt a little bit like I imagine running a marathon would feel like; it was thick with difficult material causing me to read it slow and steady, gauging what I could handle because the material made me feel physically and emotionally heavy. The chapters are small and I found myself thinking, "Can I read one more? Just one more?" the way a runner might say, "Can I run one more mile? Just one more?" I know these don't sound like "good" qualities in a book, but it really was amazing how the writing was able to make me feel the weight of Sally's pain without needing to know many details of what specifically happened to Sally. 

I was surprised to find how much I could identify with Sally, considering I am not a victim of child abuse. This book might be my most marked up and highlighted book read this year (despite my Kindle eating all of my notes for lunch the other day, ugh). Farris captures the loneliness and isolation felt by abuse victims and how it bleeds into all facets of life. Sally's abuse and neglect made her feel unworthy of love, leading to drugs and alcohol, and later insecurities in her marriage, motherhood and friendships. Through only fragments of memories Sally is capable of sharing with the reader, I was able to gain empathy for Sally and experience what she felt in some capacity. 

One thing I really appreciated about this book was the spiritual element involved in Sally's process of healing from her past. I think a lot of novels omit ones spiritual journey and might have expected Sally to write God off because of her abuse. Instead she uses her spirituality to help her heal, she asks God questions, but she never loses her faith. Her faith might not come in a completely traditional form and she must maneuver through different rules of Christian denominations, but she sticks to her faith and it helps her maneuver through her pain. 

Despite all of the difficult material, there are some beautiful moments in this book that give so much hope and love to abuse survivors. Scenes with Sally's children, when she really connects with them and feels their love, made the difficult parts so worthwhile. Similarly, witnessing Sally and her husband's love for each other was inspiring. As a reader I felt the refreshing reprieve Sally must feel when she is able to connect love into her life. It's rare when an author can really make the reader truly feel such a wide range of emotions, especially on such a sensitive subject. While this book is about an abuse survivor, it's really a story about hope and growth, and I felt that growth right along with Sally.

Bottom Line: This book is not for everyone, but if you or someone you know has been affected by any kind of abuse, I think this is an important book to read. If this book sounds interesting to you, I think you will love it. If you don't think you can handle it, I can understand that, but I still recommend it nonetheless. 4/5 stars.

About the Author

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Like Sally Lane Brookman, E.L. Farris is a marathon-running suburban soccer mom, and her husband really does dream of shooting squirrels. They live in Virginia with their three children. E.L. loves to talk with readers (and she answers all of her correspondence personally!).

Connect with her on Facebook, on Twitter and via e-mail.

The cofounder of Bad Doggy Productions, E.L. is also the author of Ripple: A Tale of Hope and Redemption; Strays Welcome, the upcoming sequel to I Run; and Wave, the upcoming sequel to Ripple.

If you would like to be notified when E.L.’s next book is released, please visit her author website, to subscribe to e-mail updates.

You can also find news about upcoming releases at Bad DoggyProductions.

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