Runaway Train (Runaway Train #1) by Lee Matthew Goldberg
ABOUT THE BOOK
They told me I was an out-of-control train about to crash…
Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control.
I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way.
At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only way she knows how.
Armed with her bucket list, Polaroid camera, her dead sister’s mixtape, her dad’s gas card, and her anger and grief, Nico runs away from her shitshow of a life and finds herself. How does that go, you ask? Well, it results in meeting new friends, being arrested, singing with a band, and hitting rock bottom as predicted.
Nico is a little rough around the edges. She’s abrasive, out-of-control, and hurting badly. After losing her 17-year-old sister from a brain aneurysm, Nico is convinced that she is going to die too and drowns herself in music, drugs, alcohol, and acts of delinquency to hide the pain. Add the fact that she finds out her parents’ marriage has all been a lie and she takes off for the unknown along the coast of California and Washington. The people she meets along the way and the death of her music idol will change her life forever.
The supporting characters are essential in this book from Nico’s messed up friends Winter and Jeremy, to Nico’s “spiritual detective” Aunt Carly, to Stephen the Jesus boy, and especially the soulful and kind, Evan, who is a keeper.
Mr. Goldberg’s deep dive into the 90’s grunge scene is a new one for me. I have to admit I was more of a pop music listener like Kristen, Nico’s sister. Yes, I was that girl. 😁 He expresses that Nico’s love of groups like Nirvana, Hole, Stone Temple Pilots, etc., has a huge effect on her life due to the emotional lyrics and angsty tones, similar to other eras such as the 60’s and ’70s. Whether you are a grunge fan or not, I suggest you listen to the music listed on Nico’s mixtape to get a feel of her state of mind and how she is trying to understand her grief of losing her sister.
I recommend this heartbreaking and reflective young adult novel for those who enjoy coming-of-age stories, love ’90s music, and have a rebellious streak who are truly ready to see the stars.
Thank you to Mr. Goldberg for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
Giveaway: Signed paperback copy of Runaway Train – US Only
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.