________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 7 . . . . November 23, 2007


Running Toward Home. (Nunatak Fiction).

Betty Jane Hegerat.
Edmonton, AB: NeWest Press, 2006.
218 pp., pbk., $22.95.
ISBN 978-1-897126-01-1.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Geneviève M.Y. Valleau.

**½  /4


Corey made his way to the far end of the prehistoric park, creeping along the edges of the path, pulling into the shadows when he thought he heard a crunching footstep ahead of him, but so far he was still alone with the dinosaurs. Alone, and hungry, and thinking about the ice cream cake that would’ve cooled his throat. Tina had promised to buy ice cream cake for his birthday. Not likely she’d remembered to buy it ahead of time.

He stopped, put his hands over his ears, and shook his head. He had to get [his family]out of his brain, stop remembering, and think of a way to get out of this mess. He wasn’t lost. He knew his way around the zoo. He was safe here. Just him and the animals, and probably a couple of guards at each entrance.


Although Corey loves his birth mother, he is conflicted about how comfortable and loved he feels around his new foster parents. Every six months, Corey gets to visit his mother, Tina, and today they are meeting at the Calgary Zoo. But as soon as they start talking, Corey knows that Tina is not going to be with him until the next day as she had promised. He decides right then and there that he is going to run away, just like he has done so many times before.

     Hegerat’s story of 12-year-old Corey, which is told from five different points of view, is heartbreaking. The reader follows the events of one night and the characters’ memories and personal struggles with their relationships with loved ones. Each character has his or her own personal demons to work through: Tina was only 16 when Corey was born and she lost custody of him because of her abusive boyfriend. Corey’s newest foster parents, Wilma and Ben, took Corey into their home in order to have another child in their house now that their own children are adults. Conversely, Corey’s great-grandfather deals with the pain of letting Corey go. Although some of the memories are not essential to the plot of the novel, the majority of them add to the complexity of the painful psychological journey these characters are making together.

     Even though, at times, the story is melancholy, it ends in a hopeful note and shows that no matter how dysfunctional the situation, there are always people around you who care about your well-being. 

     Hegerat’s complex storyline is told in simple writing and short chapters. Although it is a good novel, it does lack intriguing substance. Readers can sympathize with each of the characters pain, but it does overwhelm the story at times. That said, it would be a good book for a reluctant reader who likes to read short chapters or for an ESL student.

Recommended with reservations.

Geneviève M.Y. Valleau has a Master’s of Arts in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.