Running On Empty by S. E. Durrant

Running On Empty

Written by S. E. Durrant
Illustrated by Rob Biddulph

9+ readers   11+ readers   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

In a nutshell: powerful, beautifully written real life story

S E Durrant writes convincingly and movingly about ordinary young people in extraordinary situations, and Running on Empty finds beauty and certainty in an apparently bleak situation. Eleven-year old AJ’s parents both have learning difficulties and he becomes their main carer when his grandfather suddenly dies. It’s a struggle, especially at first when no-one at his new secondary school realises just what AJ has to cope with. His love and tenderness towards his parents is beautifully described, as is the warmth of his extended family and things slowly sort themselves out. Somehow too his grandfather – who loved running as much as AJ does – is never really far away. Without a trace of sentimentality, this ends on a note of hope and happiness that is both believable and uplifting.

This is one to recommend to fans of Susin Nielsen and even R J Palacio. ~ Andrea Reece

Editor at Nosy Crow says: “I can’t recommend Sue’s beautiful books highly enough. She has a magic touch and tells profound stories with conviction and heart. Genuinely cross-generational in appeal, too.”


Running On Empty by S. E. Durrant

AJ's grandfather has always been the one to keep his unusual family together, so when he dies things start to unravel at the edges. Round and round the Olympic Park, aiming for the cross country trials, running to escape, AJ only seems to be heading ever closer to disaster. AJ is worried about his parents but they don't really seem to notice. In order to deal with his grief and to keep his anxiety at bay, AJ does what he and his grandfather did best: running. Round and round the Olympic Park, aiming for the cross country trials, running to escape, AJ only seems to be heading ever closer to disaster. Running On Empty is a beautiful book about false starts and emotional journeys, with hope as the ultimate finishing line.

From the author of Little Bits of Sky.

Cover illustration by Rob Biddulph.


‘Beautiful writing about family, loss, dreams and small pleasures that packs a real emotional punch’ Fiona Noble in The Bookseller

Praise for S. E. Durrant’s debut novel, Little Bits of Sky

‘This remarkable debut novel reads as if written by an experienced children’s author at the height of her powers.’ Nicolette Jones

‘SE Durrant writes both economically and subtly as she tells the story of the children and the mysterious Glenda. In spite of its lyrical quality, realism permeates the book and the ending, whilst optimistic, is entirely believable.’ The Scotsman

About the Author

S. E. Durrant

S.E. Durrant has wanted to be a writer since she was a child and has always squeezed writing in around the edges of her life. She spent her childhood in Scotland before moving to Leicestershire when she was twelve. She studied Fine Art (painting) and then travelled widely before settling in south London. She has taken on many jobs including working on a stall at Covent Garden market, selling paintings in Venice and teaching art to children. For many years she worked on research bids at the University of London. She now lives in Brighton with her partner and two teenage children, all of whom are taller than she is.

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Book Info


208 pages


S. E. Durrant
More books by S. E. Durrant


Nosy Crow Ltd

Publication date

1st March 2018




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