Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!
Today’s recommendation is one of those books that has been hanging around on my TBR for literal years and my copy has probably been lugged around the country a couple of times thanks to my many moves. I finally got to it when I decided to try and cull my TBR shelf (please clap), and I am now mad I didn’t read it sooner! Ah, the life of a reader.
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A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
When a moment of everyday harassment causes Annabelle Agnelli to snap, she starts running. She runs and runs and decides that she’ll run all the way from Seattle to Washington, D.C. Her mom thinks the idea is insane and wants to stop her, but Annabelle is determined. And when her Grandpa Ed shows up in his RV, she realizes: She’s really doing this. But running thousands of miles one day at a time means Annabelle has a lot of time on her feet to think about what she’s running from, and what she’s running toward. And maybe, somewhere between Seattle and D.C., she can start to heal from the traumatic event that sent her running in the first place.
This is a tremendous book that knocked me over. Caletti starts the moment that Annabelle starts running and sticks with her every step of the way as she processes her flight response and decides to keep going. At first, as a reader, I was left wondering how on earth Caletti could sustain an entire book about Annabelle’s inner monologue while running 10-15 miles a day across the country, but very quickly I found I was in expert hands. Caletti doesn’t shy away from the intensity of Annabelle’s emotions, and even though the reader doesn’t know at the beginning why she’s running, it’s clear that Annabelle has been hurt. The deeper you get into the story, the more you learn about her past 18 months and how she found herself here. I had a few guesses about what happened in Annabelle’s backstory, and I was surprised — it’s not quite what I expected, but at the same time, I defy any young woman living in our society today who isn’t familiar with someone who has experienced a variation of what Annabelle has. I may not have been an Annabelle, but I know women who have been in her running shoes. And that makes her journey and her story so important.
I loved spending so much time with Annabelle, but I also loved her support team: her worried mother, her supportive brother, her sidekick Grandpa Ed, and all of the people she unexpectedly meets on the road who see her, empathize with her, and share their stories. By the end of the book you are rooting for Annabelle not just to reach her destination, but to find the strength you know she has to face the past and step confidently into the future.