Author: Ilona Bannister
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
A rich, bighearted debut that takes us from working-class Staten Island in the wake of the September 11th attacks to moneyed London a decade later, revealing a story of loss, motherhood, and love.
As the Twin Towers collapse, Gigi Stanislawski flees her office building and escapes lower Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry. Among the crying, ash-covered, and shoeless passengers, Gigi, unbelievably, finds someone she recognizes—Harry Harrison, a British man and a regular at her favorite coffee shop. Gigi brings Harry to her parents’ house, where they watch the television replay the planes crashing for hours, and she waits for the phone call that will never come: the call from Frankie, her younger brother.
Ten years later, Gigi, now a single mother consumed with bills and unfulfilled ambitions, meets Harry, again by chance, and they fall deeply, headlong in love. But their move to London and their new baby—which Gigi hoped would finally release her from the past—leave her feeling isolated, raw, and alone with her grief. As Gigi comes face-to-face with the anguish of her brother’s death and her rage at the unspoken pain of motherhood, she must somehow find the light amid all the darkness. Startlingly honest and shot through with unexpected humor, When I Ran Away is an unforgettable first novel about love—for our partners, our children, our mothers, and ourselves—pushed to its outer limits.
When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister is an interesting story about a woman that runs away for the day while deciding whether she wants to go back to her family. Gigi’s life changed because of the September 11 attacks. She flees her office in Manhattan and brings Harry to her parents’ house. They hardly know each other except seeing each other at the coffee shop by their offices. Years later they run into each other and form a romance. Their relationship is complicated and not always easy, but Harry always knows he wants to be with Gigi. Present day, Gigi is a struggling mother that is having trouble loving her new baby and feels like her husband doesn’t pay attention or help. She is living in London and homesick for New York and missing friends. She decides to run away and go to a hotel. She ignores all her phones calls and texts while getting drunk, watching TV, and deciding what she wants to do next. The book is told alternating between present day and the past telling Gigi and Harry’s story. I enjoyed When I Ran Away while I was struggling and stressed out. Bannister demonstrates that sometimes life is hard and people need time to figure things out. Gigi is a very relatable and realistic character. The reader gets inside Gigi’s head and always knows what she is thinking and why she acts the way she does. I enjoyed watching her and Harry grow together and apart. I really enjoyed this story and think it is the perfect read for those struggling.
Thank you Doubleday and Edelweiss for When I Ran Away.
About the Author
ILONA BANNISTER grew up on Staten Island and lived in New York City until she married a Brit and moved to London. Ilona Bannister, a dual qualified U.S. attorney and UK solicitor, practiced immigration law in the UK before taking a career break to raise her two young sons and unexpectedly found herself writing fiction. When I Ran Away is Ilona Bannister’s first novel.