Sixteen-year-old Dee and her seven-year-old brother, Eddie, have been on their own for six weeks. Their father has seemingly vanished into the baking Arizona desert. Their money is drying up and the rent is coming due, but it's a visit from a social worker and the prospect of being separated from Eddie that scares Dee enough to flee. She dupes her brother into packing up and embarking on the long road trip to Canada, their birthplace and former home. Lacking a driver's license and facing a looming interrogation at the border, Dee rations their money and food as they burn down the interstate in their ancient, decrepit car.
"This is a beautiful, if heart-wrenching story of two children left adrift due to the death of their mother and their father's mental illness. Whether it is a side trip to the Grand Canyon or mistaking someone's front yard for a camping spot, the siblings' humor and loyalty are real…Nail-biting yet endearing."
– Kirkus Reviews
"This is Dee's story, and Hughes supplies a well-paced narrative, honest dialogue, and evocative, descriptive passages to tell it…Dee's fierce, protective love for her younger brother is also a forceful presence. The warm, sometimes comic dynamic between the two is the heart of the story…Hughes does not make this story an encouragement to possible runaways, or romanticize the reality of being responsible for someone else's welfare at a young age. Instead, she creates characters to root for."
– Quill & Quire
"Fans of realistic fiction will enjoy this heartwarming story of a road trip and overcoming family adversity. Purchase where titles for reluctant readers are needed."
– School Library Journal
"Hughes creates a visceral sense of the territory the siblings pass through, and readers will be pulling hard for both Dee, who is shouldering adult responsibilities, and Eddie, whose stress manifests in quirky behavior. Hughes deals gently with the siblings' emotions in a story about embracing the present when the past and future are too heavy to bear."
– Publishers Weekly
"Readers will cheer [Dee's] bravery, loving integrity and competence as she and her brother Hit the Ground Running. Alison Hughes weaves a touching, thrilling and wryly funny story of an 'anchorless family' seeking a safe home port."
"Hughes' latest, Hit the Ground Running, has a catchy title and an engaging storyline…This is an endearing story starring the likable and relatable Dee, who must take on a parental role and make difficult decisions to keep she and her brother together."
– RT Book Reviews
"What's striking about this novel is how funny it is. Dee's situation is desperate, no doubt, but her telling of the story is leavened by eye-rolling, sarcasm, silly jokes, and pratfall comedy…Dee is beautifully written, the kind of character that will stick with readers long after they finish the book…Hit the Ground Running is an excellent choice for teen reading groups and for classroom libraries, as well as public and school libraries. Readers are sure to enjoy following Dee on her helter-skelter road trip to Canada. I certainly did!"
– Resource Links
Governor General's Literary Award | 2017 | Short-listed
Junior Library Guild Selection | 2016 | Commended
Resource Links The Year's Best | 2017 | Commended
SYRCA Snow Willow | 2018 | Short-listed
CCBC Best Books | 2018 | Commended