No, I don’t dream about the accident. I dream, over and over again, that I’m running. Running like I’ve never run before. Running like Eliza Thompson. Running like my lioness. Running as fast as my dragon flew that night, up into the sky and away from here. The setting changes – I’m on grass, on the beach, on the dirt track at school, on the road – but I’m always running. So far and so fast that my dream lungs ache and my muscles scream, but I keep going. I can’t tell if I’m running away from something or if I’m running toward something.
Tonight is no different. I wake up drenched in sweat. Every beat of my pounding heart is a command.
Run. Run. Run.
I am not a sporty person. I might have been, but the combination of lack of confidence and truly uninspiring PE teachers meant any potential I might have had died on the vine. I love pilates, and skiing, and walking, and swimming (as long as it’s not too cold or grim), but I have shit knees and a vulnerable back, so anything involving running is basically a no-go. So it’s pretty great that I loved a book about running this much.
Wing Jones is half Chinese, half Ghanaian, and lives in Georgia, with her mother, her brother, and her two grandmothers, who are in constant competition. Her older brother is an athlete, but she’s not. At least, not until her brother is involved in a car accident and she takes to running to cope with it. Wing Jones is a story about family, about women loving and supporting each other, about finding a place to fit when there’s nowhere obvious, about crisis. It’s about discovering new things about ourselves and following them. It’s got really casual teen lesbians, which I obviously loved. It made me cry twice, and it deals with grief and guilt and blame throughout. It’s also very clear about the horrors of the American health system: set in the mid-90s, there is nobody to help when the medical bills of someone being in a coma exceed what an insurance company will pay. Living in the UK, I’ve never thought about that, and it horrified me. But it’s ultimately very uplifting, and in a difficult time (I finished it on Friday afternoon, while trying really hard to avoid news of the inauguration), that’s exactly what I needed. It’s a brilliant, beautiful story, with characters I loved, and I hope Katherine Webber brings out something else soon because this is a glorious debut.