Kid’s Book Review: Running Away for Beginners

Kid’s Book Review: Running Away for Beginners

About the Book and Author

Running Away For Beginners is a marvellous, emotional book, but for older readers because it dealt with difficult themes such as illness and death.

When 15-year-old Jasper is diagnosed with cancer, the only plan he and his friends can think of to combat the news is to run away. They first decide to take a weekend trip to Scarborough, but only Jasper knows that he’ll then go on to Robin’s Hood Bay.

Because that’s where Uncle Universe lives, the man whose brain is as large as the whole wide world, and who had made a promise to Jasper when he was little; if he ever encountered a problem, he could bring it along to Uncle Universe, and the magic man would fix it.

So the four friends set out on a journey, but soon realise that running away is harder than they thought…


Mark Illis

Mark Illis  writes novels for adults and teenagers, and has written extensively for television. This story was inspired by Mark Illis’s own experiences from when he was a teen diagnosed with cancer.

Book Review

It made me think about my own connections with the people around me and want to strengthen them

I really enjoyed reading this book, for many reasons. First of all, it was brilliantly described. Jasper called his cancer tumour “Steve”, and by personifying it, he added a real depth to the complex illness – humanising the disease made me just see it as another dastardly villain. The characters discovered who they really were and grew (physically and mentally). The scenery and the characters were amazingly real; the image the words built in my mind was beautiful – or, actually, sometimes not so lovely. And that’s the second point; there were times when reading the book when I felt genuinely scared for the teenagers. There were creepy adult men, and suspicious old ladies, shoving the main characters into tons of trouble.

Another thing – I flew through the book and almost couldn’t put it down. This was due to the description, but I also related to the characters, which made the story feel smooth. The final thing was that it was actually really moving. I was brought along on the journey with Jasper and his friends and loved every second. The book illustrated a beautiful message about cancer, friendship and what it means to properly be family. It made me think about my own connections with the people around me and want to strengthen them.

This was truly an incredible book. I didn’t love the ending, but the wonderful descriptions and funny characters more than made up for it.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from your local independent book shop.

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Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian.

Whichever you choose we hope you enjoy being part of your unique reading community – happy reading everyone!

Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Kirsten
  • Age: 13 years
  • Likes: Reading, music, theatre
  • Dislikes: Cream and sprouts
  • Favourite Book: How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie
  • Favourite Song: Papercuts by Jax
  • Favourite Film: Hunt for the Wilderpeople