Teens and young adults at times have the need to find themselves as they say. Not having any real direction and thinking that they are unwanted, not needed or no one gets them, they often fall into the trap of the hands of the wrong people. Some parents lose sight of what their teens or young adults are into and are so consumed with their own needs and wants they do not see what is happening in front of them until it is too late. Meet Nico, Winter and Jeremy three lost teens that think their way of thinking and cutting classes and doing pot and other drugs is the way to enjoy life. Nico has poor self-esteem and just lost her sister, Kristen and feels more than pushed aside by her parents who do not attempt to recognize her hurts, feelings and make her feel as if she does not exist. No matter what she does they refuse at times to acknowledge her and she runs to her friend’s mother for love, guidance and plain friendship with Winter and Jeremy. Cutting class, telling lies comes naturally to her and then the big reveal or decision to run away, escape from it all and complete all the things on her Bucket List. Nico has her own mindset and refuses to hear the voices or thoughts of anyone except herself. Any disagreeing thoughts and she bails, yells and refuses to see the other point of view. Hers is the only one that matters and that is right. So, she takes off but first her Aunt Carly tries to center her and takes her to fulfill the sleeping under the stars on her bucket list. That proves to be okay at first until she gets too close to the boyfriend of one of the girls she meets where she drops her off. Going back with her aunt to her car and takes one more look around and her road trip begins hoping to fulfill more items on her list and see Kurt Cobain’s house. She is too obsessed with him and his music at times she cannot see past anything else. When things get tough her sister’s ghost appears and for a short while centers her and tries to get her back on some positive track. She feels guilty about her sister’s death and their relationship was not that close and yet how can you not miss your sister? I miss mine every minute of every day.
When she finally leaves and is on her way she meets many groups of people but the one that strikes a chord are the ones that tried to get her to believe in herself and god. At first she seemed to assimilate with them and yet questions were answered, and her lies came easily. When things got rough, and they called her on her thoughts she fought hard and left without looking back even though she and one young man named Stephen seemed to hit it off. Loyalties are broken and when calling her friends who were covering for her with her parents and school she never realizes the spot she was ultimately going to put them in.
Nico only cares about what she thinks and has no faith in herself to amount to anything and thinks her life is unworthy. Finding different people to be around and then meeting Lacey and Evan who introduce her to their band and her life just might take on a different turn. Open Mic is what she tried, and the response was unbelievable a Nico just might learn that there is more to life than smoking weed, drinking and running away from yourself and making excuses for the anger that is inside. Sharing thoughts about her sister with Evan and hearing about his brother does help her to a point to understand that she is not alone in missing someone that is gone. Stephen, Evan, Lacey, Winter, Jeremy and Edina all want the best for her and yet each one of these people have their own problems and demons to conquer yet Nico does not see anything past her own. They talk about their parents, Winer and Jeremey, they talk about her goals and they talk about everything and yet something will change it in a split second. One phone call and she learn that the school called, and her parents now know that she ran away, that she cut school and that she wanted to see Kurt Cobain’s house and she was too caught up in him. They learned about her arrest and they now know where she might be and when she comes home things will change but will it be for the better?
Evan is her best mainstay and centers her and she falls apart when Cobain kills himself to the point that she does not realize that he is just a star on the stage and figure she admires for his music and not a real person in her life and yet she falls apart. She is angry at the world, she is angry with everyone, she is angry with herself and then she is only plain angry and at times you wonder if she even knows why. She lashes out anyway even when Evan wants to help her she shouts: Do not tell me what I am going through. Everyone wants me to shut up and get over things You, Winer, Jeremy, my parents become a burden. There is no rulebook that tells us how to deal with tragedy but time. She hardly hears his responses, and the police are looking for her. Explaining that Cobain was not a rea person in her life she does ;t hear the words. She uses him as a reason to enter a world that belongs to her and no one else. Then she is so out of it she winds up in the hospital and there is where maybe her path will go in a different direction. The only thing that might change is when she gets home will her parents embrace her, kick her out or blame her for all she has done or take ownership of what they did not do to help her deal with the death of her sister and her feelings about life in general? Added in the fact that each parent neglected her and had someone on the side plays a huge part in her actions. Nico never bothered to look at the other side of anything but when she returns home will that change?
The encounter with her parents is loud, angry and yet they begin to understand her side and maybe things might change between them. Music is her passion will they get to hear her sing when she is invited to sing with the band again? What about school will she graduate? Will she attend music school? The ending is quite compelling and the R.E.M. tape the counsellor gives her might allow her to understand the true meaning of Everybody Hurts. The final two chapters will shock readers as you hear her conversations with her two friends, her final feelings about school and the last chapter the song she created just for her sister: “ Your ghost remains inside: READY TO GUIDE?
But, will she return to being a RUNAWAY TRAIN: SOUL ASYLUM?
A story that young teens need to read and understand that running away is just running away from the truth, your path and what Nico encountered was a learning experience, but she was lucky she did not become a victim of anything bad or dangerous. Lies, betrayals, hopes, fears, survival and the chance to become her own person are just what each of the teens in this book are looking for plus acceptance, love and understanding as author Lee Matthew Goldberg’s first YA book takes us back to the past and the 90’s , the music, the era, the pot, the bands and the problems teens faced just being teens. What is next for Nico? Will she find who she really is and embrace herself the person that she is and can be?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews