Running Home

Reading a novel in proof form can be a serendipitous experience – no cover illustration, author biography or quotes from other reviews to give even an inkling of what to expect within. The plain blue covers of the proof of Running Home, giving it a look of Bunreacht na hÉireann (The Irish Constitution) provided no clues about this enthralling debut novel from Teresa Doran. It might, however, not be pushing fancy too far to say that it could be read as a sort of descendant of our constitution, albeit one with its provenance on the wrong side of the duvet. It promotes the independence of spirit to which our founding fathers aspired, and it has a great deal to say about families, although not of the idyllic sort envisaged as the bedrock of the state. The book opens shockingly as Cait, aged 12, tries to protect her 6-year-old sister Effie from the horror of their parents’ deaths. The rest of the story concerns the girls’ journey from Cornwall back to Ireland and their grandparents in County Clare. Terrified that she and Effie will be taken into care, Cait realises that only a great deal of resourcefulness and ingenuity can help them to achieve their goal. On their way they encounter a diverse group of people, some of whom, like Storm and his New Age family, help them and others, like the menacing Col, whose interest in Cait hints at more than the reward offered for information about the whereabouts of the two girls. While keeping the pace moving along nicely and without indulging in over-long descriptive passages, Doran manages to convey a strong sense of the places and people encountered by Cait and Effie. Cait’s concerns for herself, and in particular for Effie, are caught well, making the reader urge on these two children who are enmeshed in a very grave situation. Running Home is an engrossing adventure story with enormously likeable characters, built on a heartbreaking situation, all of which must leave readers eagerly looking forward to future books from Teresa Doran.