Stepping back in time today as I review Sandy Taylor’s latest novel, ‘The Runaway Children’, for the last stop on the blog tour! Huge thanks to Bookouture for the blog tour invite, as well as the ARC of the book. Here is my review:
London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?
As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…
They must run from danger and try to find their way home.
Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?
What does TWG think?
Wow. I struggled to read this book, I’m not going to lie. No, I don’t mean that I struggled to read it because of how it was written, or that I struggled reading it due to any other negative reason. Not at all. I struggled reading ‘The Runaway Children’ because of how emotive and poignant the storyline was. We are taught at school about how things were during the war and, whilst those pieces of information are still quite difficult to digest, a lot of the time it doesn’t seem to work its way to our core. We either shrug it off because ‘it doesn’t affect us’, or we have no idea how to approach history itself. With Sandy Taylor’s novel, that is where everything changed for me personally. I have always loved history, but for the duration of this book, I was able to see things from a completely different point of view. Gone were the historical dates which everyone had to learn just because. Sandy Taylor wrote a story about what happened to people. Whilst the storyline itself is fictional, a lot of it is based on history, after all, children DID have to get evacuated during the war. ‘The Runaway Children’ is a story which is guaranteed to grab hold of your heart and not let it go.
Set in London during the early 1940’s, two sisters are being sent away from the devastation which the war has caused to their beloved city. Why? For safety of course. The opposition didn’t want to throw bombs down in a middle of an empty field, they wanted to attack cities full of monuments and thousands of people. So they did. Unfortunately for Nell, Olive and thousands of other children, London was no longer a safe place to live and their only hope of staying safe would be to leave. Poor Nell has the task of being in charge of her little sister come rain or shine. Okay, for many of us, that would seem like an okay thing to do. For Nell however, the responsibility was extremely large, especially when they found themselves moving from pillar to post on more than one occasion.
It’s not that I was ignorant when it came to learning about evacuees, I just hadn’t had a reason to delve into that period of history to a level which Sandy Taylor has in this story. And, because of that, the entire storyline hit home on a completely unexpected level. I’m not sure whether it was my motherly instincts or the fact that I am indeed human with my own set of emotions, but ‘The Runaway Children’ gave me the feels. It really was like reading a book which made you happy one moment, angry the next, and then realising your face is sodden with tears. How do I know this? Because it happened.
Sandy Taylor has taken a memorable, historical event, and laid it bare to make all of her readers sit up and listen. It certainly made me sit up and listen, that’s for sure! I was absolutely blown away by the intense level of emotion, mixed with the poignancy only a story of this calibre could bring. I shouldn’t sit here and say that I loved this book because of what it contained, however, I really did love this book because it reached my soul in a way I could never really describe. This story highlighted the fact that the little things in life are important, and there is no use wasting your time on stupid things when there are far more important people (and things) to concerned yourself with.
The characters in this book are inspiration beyond belief, and have taught me so much in such a short space of time. ‘The Runaway Children’ is one of the best historical fiction/saga novels I have ever read. You really would be a fool not to grab a copy and travel back in time with Nell and Olive. For me, Olive stole the show and her innocence made the rest of the storyline shine bright like a diamond (whilst also making me laugh out loud more than once).
Written absolutely beautiful and straight from the heart, ‘The Runaway Children’ will forever have a place in my heart alongside Nell, Olive, and Ms Timony. A delightful, heart-warming story from start to finish.