A raw and authentic look at life, motherhood and what it means to survive!
I was kindly gifted this to take part in the Tandem Collective Readalong.
When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister
Published 4th March 2021
When the Twin Towers collapsed, Gigi Stanislawski fled her office building and escaped lower Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry. Among the crying, ash-covered and shoeless passengers, Gigi, unbelievably, found someone she recognised – the guy with pink socks and a British accent – from the coffee shop across from her office. Together she and Harry Harrison make their way to her parents’ house where they watch the television replay the planes crashing for hours, and she waits for the phone call from her younger brother that never comes. And after Harry has shared the worst day of her life, it’s time for him to leave.
Ten years later, Gigi, now a single mother consumed with bills and unfulfilled ambitions, bumps into Harry again and this time they fall deeply in love. When they move to London it feels like a chance for the happy ending she never dared to imagine. But it also highlights the differences in their class and cultures, which was something they laughed about until it wasn’t funny anymore; until the traumatic birth of their baby leaves Gigi raw and desperately missing her best friends and her old life in New York.
As Gigi grieves for her brother and rages at the unspoken pain of motherhood, she realises she must somehow find a way back – not to the woman she was but to the woman she wants to be.
It feels strange to say that this book is beautiful when the themes of the book are so utterly heartbreaking but it is because the author has done such a wonderful job at portraying the character of Gigi and everything that she goes through. Just beautiful!
If you’re a mother yourself then this will definitely be a book that you can relate to. There were plenty of times where I was nodding along or laughing because the exact same things had happened to me, such as her husband trying to find the baking tray or him texting asking where the medicine is kept.
Throughout the book we have flashbacks to Gigi’s past, from the aftermath of 9/11 to the traumatic birth of her second child. It’s from here we can see that she is struggling with postnatal depression and so many of the thoughts and feelings she experiences, again, we as mothers can all relate to.
Your heart will ache for Gigi as I wanted her to feel better, safe and loved. You can feel her pain and grief seeping from the pages as she tries to figure out what to do.
It’s hard to say much more but this book is about Gigi’s journey from 9/11 survivor to an American mother living in London dealing with anxiety, postnatal depression and home sickness.
Overall this is such a raw and authentic look at handling the pressures of motherhood, life, society and grief. I highly recommend!