Review: Running Like China


Most of the time we don’t notice the darkness… not until we’re in the thick of it. It was like that for Sophie Hardcastle, as the joy she’d always known disappeared. She was constantly tired, with no energy, no motivation and no sense of enjoyment for anything. Her hours became empty. And then, the month before she turned seventeen, that emptiness filled with an intense, unbearable sadness that made her scream and tear her skin.

In this brave, bold and beautifully told memoir, Sophie lays bare her story of mental illness – of a teenage girl using drugs, alcohol and sex in an attempt to fix herself; of her family’s anguish and her loss of self. It is a courageous and hopeful story of adaptation, learning to accept and of ultimately realising that no matter how deep you have sunk, the surface is always within reach.

Running Like China

When you run a book blog, it’s can be easy to forget why you read. Instead, you’re reading more for the sake of the blog than anything else, and to get out of this “reading slump”, all you need is the right book.

Running Like China is my “right book”. It’s the book that will remind you of the power of words, the power of a story, and what a book can truly make you feel. The fact that it is a memoir only makes it stronger, and more inspiring. In fact, I dare you to buy this book, read it, and try to walk away un-inspired.

Sometimes, an autobiography can be put onto a whole new level of detail, because it’s recounting stories, rather than making stories. Sometimes, it might not have much detail because the author doesn’t remember so far back to their childhood. But Sophie definitely remembers her life well, because the detail in this book is astounding. Absolutely astounding. It’s vivid and extremely thorough, allowing you to feel as if you’re right there with Sophie herself. I honestly do not think I have ever read a book more detailed, or ruthlessly honest than this one.

The thing with autobiographies is that sometimes, they can be a bit all over the place. An anecdote here, an adventure there, all pushed together into a book with nothing there to link them. However, Sophie has so cleverly used the theme of surfing and the ocean to very neatly bind everything together, to add some form to the book. It’s just so

I liked the way Sophie didn’t name many of the characters in her life. The councillor at school was “the man in the blue room”, her boyfriend was “the boy with the melting glacier in his eyes”. In fact, the only people that were really named were her family. Her sister, “Gee”, Mum and Dad. The effect of anonymising all other characters that were not majorly important in the book was amazing in focusing the book completely on her and her only.

The only flaw that I could find in this book was that there was no clear structure. It started at 15 years old, went back to birth, went to 9 years old, went to 5 years old. There was a vague notion of growing up, but it wasn’t linear as in birth, 1 year old, 2 years old, 3 years old. You know what I think? Honestly, I could not care less.

I feel like my review has not justified the greatness of this book. Right now, I want you to open a new tab, search “Running Like China” and bookmark the Amazon link. Then, when you get a chance, buy it immediately. This book will always have a special place on my bookshelf and in my heart. Thank you to Sophie for such a bone-shiveringly beautiful book, and I’m honoured to have had the opportunity to read it.

Thank you to Hachette Australia for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ 10/10

Running Like China is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.

The Info:

  • Title: Running Like China
  • Author: Sophie Hardcastle
  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Australia (August 25th, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN13: 9780733634260
  • URL: GoodreadsAmazon, The Book Depository

2 thoughts on “Review: Running Like China

  1. Ahh, I just saw this and the bookstore today and thought, what a gorgeous cover! I didn’t realise it was a memoir (despite the cover text) until you said so, and your review makes it sound so amazing. I think I might actually pick it up.


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