This question isn’t asked until the end of the book. However, Ellie explains her reasoning for running in between places at night fairly close to the beginning. She runs so that she has a head start on the bad guy that might be chasing her. Never did she imagine that in her first semester at art college, she would be running toward him. This is a story about Ellie, a young art student who wants to paint, really paint–to paint and have her work invoke a powerful response. It is also a story about dependence, being new to college and relationships, and staying true to yourself when it would feel good to give in.
This novel brought about a lot of memories of my first semester at college. I was an art student, like Ellie, and though I didn’t remain an art student for very long, I will never forget my time in my very first drawing class. Ellie’s classes and her projects all felt real–this doesn’t surprise me, as the author is an artist herself. But what was most real about this novel was Ellie’s struggles in the romance department. She tries again and again to tell herself that this is what she wants, that she’s a liberated soul, and that she and Nick are meant for each other. I found myself absolutely absorbed in this novel and its central conflict–that letting go of a toxic relationship can be very difficult. It’s one of the hardest lessons to learn in real life and I think that Hillary Frank handles it wonderfully. As a side note, there are a lot of endearing minor characters in this novel–like Ellie’s Dad and her enthusiastic art teacher, Ed. Even stoner Sam. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read this summer.