When to Run, Born Scared
by Stephanie King

"…Stephanie was born to fight, and survive, with a determination to win, or die trying."

Sometimes monsters are real. From the moment she's born, the ill-fated Stephanie is doomed to fail. Her malicious father actually says there's a monster in the closet. Her older, inimical sister stops at nothing to make her suffer. Stephanie is unwittingly thrown into a psych ward. She's subjected to incomprehensible abuses. As she craves her mother's protection, she endures her father's horrific maltreatment. At every turn, Stephanie is trapped in a fight she can't lose. But this merely strengthens her with a determination that helps her even in adulthood, where she faces unexpected new battles, both physical and mental.

With elements of suspense and horror, King creates an austere world where terror is too real and where readers experience the grievous mistreatment of children inside the skin and mind of a tormented girl. Even the book's cover, featuring a frightening image of a scared child and a shadowy monster entering the room, vividly recalls childhood nightmares. There's rarely a happy moment in the novel, which may be depressing for some readers. But what is perhaps most disturbing is how realistic Stephanie's story feels and how much it seems it could be based on a true story.

While King tackles rather heavy themes with her dark and disturbing plot, she still manages to explore a woman's unfortunate place in the world with compassion. Stephanie is controlled and punished for more than thirty years, but King allows small glimmers of hope, and readers will likely admire Stephanie's willpower to fight and survive. The story ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, so readers will need to read the next installment in the trilogy to find out what happens to Stephanie. One can only hope that she remains strong in her fight and that her world gets better.

Return to USR Home