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“Be careful. It ain’t easy to love a Dickinson,” Colt. –Run
by Kody Keplinger
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
Agnus Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. These rules are meant to protect their legally blind daughter, though protect her from what, Agnus isn’t quite sure.
Despite everything, Bo and Agnus become best friends. It’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything. So, when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnus doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities and – worst of all – confronting some ugly secrets.
Bo and Agnus are unlikely friends mostly because of Bo’s bad reputation. Everyone in town believes that Bo is white trash, who drinks too much and sleeps around with anyone and everyone. Even though Bo has done nothing to earn this reputation, she does nothing to dispel it either. Unlike Bo, Agnus is resigned to live a boring life in her hometown that she will never leave. Because of her disability, her parents are overprotective, but Agnus never talks to them about how she feels trapped. The two girls form a strong bond, and readers will enjoy seeing how their friendship progresses and changes them.
Run alternates between Bo and Agnus’s points of view; it also jumps from the past to the present. Bo and Agnus’s voice are very similar, so readers will need to pay attention to the name that appears at the beginning of every chapter. Despite this, the story’s plot is easy to follow. However, while Bo and Agnus are interesting characters, they are not necessarily relatable.
Unfortunately, the girl’s relationship doesn’t necessarily make either one of them better people. Once Agnus begins spending time with Bo, she begins lying to her parents, using profanity, and even drinking beer a couple of times. Although Agnus’s parents come to like Bo, when Bo’s mother is thrown into jail, Agnus’s parents do nothing to help her.
Run will appeal to teenagers because it deals with many teenage issues such as false rumors, gossiping, parent disapproval and trying to find your way in life. However, at times the frequent profanity is distracting and Bo’s unwillingness to correct false accusations is unbelievable. Despite this, Run is an entertaining story that teenagers will enjoy.
- Someone tells Agnus that over the weekend, Bo “went down on him in the hayloft at Andrew’s party Friday night.” Later, Agnus wonders if she should be friends with Bo because “Bo was the kind of girl who cussed in front of teachers and stole her mama’s whiskey to bring to parties and went down on other girls’ boyfriends.”
- In the middle of the night, Agnus’s sister invites a boy into her room. The story implies that they have sex.
- When Agnus and Bo run away, they are looking for a hotel that will rent to underage teens. Bo knows they can find one because “too many girls get pregnant on prom night, and I know they ain’t doing it in their parents’ house.” They find a hotel that looks like “a lot of drug deals have gone down in [it].”
- Agnus’s friend can’t take her home from school. Her friend says, “I think today’s the day. I think we’re going to . . . you know.”
- While at school, a boy asks Bo, “Wanna hang out? I’ll give you ten bucks and some whiskey if you’ll come over and suck my dick. . .. What’s the problem? You do it for every other guy in town. Why not me? Is my dick too big for your mouth?”
- After dancing with Colt, Agnus thinks about kissing him. “I’d laid in bed remembering the way his hands felt on me and trying to imagine what it would feel like to kiss him.”
- Agnus goes to Bo’s house. When Bo’s mother comes home, she yells, “Is that why she’s here? You fucking her too? Gone through all the men in town, so you gotta start sleeping with the girls too?”
- Bo tells Agnus about being in foster care. The dad “was always walking in on the girls while we were changing or. . .”
- Agnus and Colt start kissing. “He kept kissing me, and eventually, I picked up the rhythm and followed his lead. . . I’m not sure how we ended up lying down, twisted together on top of his bed. Or how my shirt and bra ended up on the floor. . .” The two have sex, but the act isn’t described. Later Angus thinks, “Sleeping with a boy who wasn’t my boyfriend, who’d be gone by the end of the week—it sure hadn’t been part of my plan.” However, she doesn’t regret her choice.
- On New Years, Bo and Dana “made out in the car.” The two won’t date because, “Her daddy’s a deacon at the church down on Peyton Street.”
- When a boy calls Agnus a “fucking fat bitch,” Bo hits him. “So, after I get a few good punches and kicks in, he gets his senses together and shoves me on my back. My head hits the concrete, and for a minute I see stars. . . I might have a black eye, but he’s gonna be missing a tooth.” At one point, Agnus hits the boy with her cane. The fight is described over two pages.
- While in foster care, Bo saw, “The older kids were always fighting. I saw one of them pull a knife on the other. But the foster parents didn’t do nothing about it.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Bo’s family has a bad reputation and many of them are known to be drunks.
- Before Bo’s father took off, she remembers him drinking. “Then, usually, both my folks would end up getting drunk and yelling at each other.”
- Bo and Agnus go to several parties where kids are drinking. Bo says that at one party, a boy “spilled beer down the front of my white shirt, too. Still ain’t convinced that was an accident. Kinda a waste, though. Not like I got the boobs to rock a wet T-shirt.”
- Bo’s mother uses meth.
- While hanging out by the river, Bo gives Agnus a beer. Agnus said, “It’s kinda what I’d imagine pee tastes like. Why do people drink it?”
- When Agnus and Bo go to a party, Agnus drinks a beer.
- When Bo’s father won’t let her stay at his house, she steals a bottle of alcohol and “the first drink burns. The second not so bad. And by the fourth or fifth, I don’t feel a thing.” Bo gets so drunk that she begins throwing up. Despite the rumors, this was the first time Bo had drunk alcohol.
- Profanity is used in excess. Profanity includes: damn, hell, piss, fuck, shit, goddamn, and holy shit.
- There is frequent name calling including bitches, asshole, fucking redneck, fake motherfuckers, prick, harlot and dyke.
- Jesus, Jesus Christ, and Oh my God are used as exclamations a few times.
- Agnus’s grandmother thinks the Dickinsons are “dirty drunks and thieves. And godless, too. None of them stepped foot in a church in generations. Probably get stuck by lightning if they did.”
- Christy, Agnus’s friend, calls Bo a slut. Christy says, “God thinks she’s a slut, too.” Bo overhears part of the conversation and Christy says, “Jesus loves you, Bo.” As Bo walks away Christy calls her a “whore.”
- Bo is bisexual. Agnus thinks, “I’d grown up my whole life in the church, been told it was only all right for girls to like boys. Anything else was wrong.”
- While at church, Agnus and Christy have a mean conversation about a girl who was a sinner. When Agnus refuses to stop talking, the Sunday school teacher kicks her out of class.