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When I Ran Away - a moving story of a young mother in crisis.

Gigi had a fulfilling life in New York City working towards a law degree and had the support of a group of close-knit friends. As it did for so many others, life tragically changed for Gigi on September 11th. It is also the day she met Harry, a British man she had seen in the coffee shop near her office. They both flee Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry. She brings him to her parents’ home where he meets her hard-working father and her difficult mother. Gigi and her family learn of a horrible loss at the World Trade Center.

Years later, Gigi marries Harry and they move to London along with young Johnny. Gigi, with her working class background, feels out of place in her new posh surroundings filled with judgmental people all around her. The birth of baby Rocky soon follows. After his traumatic Caesarian birth, Gigi falls into a deep postpartum depression. One day, she reaches a breaking point and leaves home. She checks into a hotel to escape. She decides to drink wine and binge on a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon.

This book shows a raw, honest portrayal of a woman who has lost all sense of herself and cannot find a way back. She is caught between missing her work life and her desire to be the best mother possible (unlike her own mother) and stay home with her children. She misses her friends and New York. She is finding it hard to bond with her new baby and pushes her well-meaning husband further and further away. She needs help.

Oftentimes hard to read, When I Ran Away is a highly emotional book also filled with humor. You’ll feel for Gigi and her struggles. It’s an impressive debut from author Ilona Bannister.

Many thanks to Edelweiss and Doubleday / Random House for the opportunity to read When I Read Away in advance of its publication.

Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Literary Fiction.

Publication Date: March 30, 2021.

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