Gayle is one of those authors I’ve been meaning to read for ages because so many people raved about her last book, COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET. So when she reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to read and review MACKENZIE’S LAST RUN and help her create a pre-order giveaway, I was more than happy to oblige. I’m very glad I did because this new book is a gem!
Read on for my review and check out the author’s Top Ten Addictions and the pre-order giveaway, which is especially great for teachers and librarians (but everyone can get in on the fun!). There’s also a Goodreads giveaway going on, so I’ve linked to that, too.
MacKenzie's Last Run by Gayle Rosengren
Published by Three Towers Press on September 1, 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Source: The Author
Cover Artist: Youness El Hindami
Thirteen-year-old MacKenzie (Mac) Lawrence secretly blames himself for his father’s death in a mall shooting. In his grief and guilt, he has pulled away from everyone, even his twin sister Tessa. When their mother announces her plans to remarry barely two years after Dad’s death Mac is furious and runs away in an attempt to force her to break off the engagement.
Unfortunately, nothing goes as Mac plans. He ends up seriously injured, miles from home, unable to reach out for help, while clues he inadvertently left behind suggest he’s been kidnapped—possibly by Mom’s fiancé—and set his twin sister Tessa on a desperate search to find him. But she’d better hurry, because the clock is ticking, and Mac is running out of time.
MacKenzie’s Last Run is a survival story that explores the aftermath of tragedy and the myriad of ways we carry its echoes with us. When Mac and Tessa’s father is killed by a mass shooter, their lives shatter. Not only do they miss him deeply, but things between them have soured as well, spoiling the bond they’ve always shared as twins. Mac has spiraled into anger that Tessa can’t fully understand, and she feels hurt and left behind. But Mac can’t bear to admit what’s really behind his anger: he blames himself for his father’s death. When their mother gets engaged, it’s the last straw for Mac. He runs away, hoping the desperate act will make his mother change her mind about the marriage. But when Mac is hurt, things go wrong fast, and he suddenly finds himself struggling to survive long enough to make it home.
Mass shootings are a difficult topic, so we don’t see them explored often. Unfortunately, they’ve become something our kids are all too familiar with. Active shooter drills are commonplace now, and many people have been directly and indirectly affected by mass shootings in this country. This book tackles the fear head-on, but it does so in a way that most kids will be able to process. Mac’s harrowing survival story takes center stage and helps take the focus off the bigger theme of the pain of Mac’s loss without watering it down. Since we see the story through both Mac’s and Tessa’s eyes, we get two different perspectives on how loss is processed, which is also great for kids to see. The book focuses on the bonds of family and the ways those ties can be tested (and how they survive and thrive). And as Mac’s situation gets more and more tenuous, kids will find themselves flipping those pages faster and faster to find out just what will happen next!
BOTTOM LINE: A riveting story of survival in the face of painful loss.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the author so I could provide an honest review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Gayle grew up in Chicago. Like her main characters, Esther and Joanna, she enjoyed school, was an avid reader, and loved dogs and horses. She majored in creative writing and philosophy in college and was the editor of the literary magazine.
Gayle never outgrew her passion for children’s books, though, and she worked in the children’s and young adult departments of a public library in Illinois for several years, enthusiastically sharing her love of books with young people while raising three young readers of her own.
Gayle eventually moved to Wisconsin, where she worked first in the reference library, and later as a copyeditor, at The Pleasant Company, where the American Girl books were published. During this time she published short stories for children in Cricket, Ladybug, Jack and Jill and Children’s Digest magazines.
Now Gayle writes full-time in her home just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband, Don, and slightly neurotic rescue dog, Fiona. She is living her dream, she says, writing books she hopes will make the same difference in children’s lives as her favorite books and authors made in hers.
Gayle’s Top Ten Addictions
1. Books, Books, Books!!! All kinds of books. I have tall bookshelves in most rooms of my house and short ones in the others. In the kitchen it’s filled with cookbooks. In the living room it’s travel books. In the dining room it’s one tall case of MG and YA novels, and another tall case with adult novels and memoirs with a window seat between them under which there is another shelf filled with picture books. Then there is the tall case in the upstairs hallway, full of non-fiction, and those boxes in the garage…and the basement…
2. My Family: They are everything to me, and while I am passionate about writing and proud of my books and the honors they’ve won, being a mom will always be my greatest accomplishment. My family is my ultimate and most positive addiction.
3. To-Do Lists: I can’t go a day without starting a new one, usually combining two or three previous ones that have some things crossed out, and adding a few more. I plan my days around these lists and I would be lost without them. It’s an addiction for sure but a good one!
4. The News: Although it is mostly pretty depressing, I have this need to know that must be satisfied. Even if it’s just by having headlines popping up in my email, I need to know what’s happening in the world, in the country, in my town before I can focus on writing or anything else.
5. Fresh Flowers: Love them! If money were no object, I would have a vase of blooms in every room of my house all year long. They provide an instant lift to my spirits and boost to my energy. But since money is an object, I settle for treating myself only a few times a year when I have some special “moment” to celebrate, even if no one else knows what that moment is.
6. Travel: I love to see places I’ve read about or seen in films. Italy is my all-time favorite. Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Florence! Each is so uniquely beautiful with their own histories and incredible art. I’m also a total Anglophile with a love of English literature that is only rivaled by a love of the English countryside. Such charming villages and countryside are really not to be found anyplace else…except perhaps, Italy!
7. Cooking Shows: I am a fair cook, sometimes even an inspired one, and I’ve learned a lot of what I know from cooking programs. But I have a special love for the competitive shows—pitting chefs against each other and the clock.
8. Salty Snacks: I crave (and usually give in to my craving for) salty snacks while I’m watching tv at night. This is bad for multiple reasons, which is why it is probably my worst addiction. Is there a Salty Snacks Anonymous group I should join?
9. A Good Red Wine: Enough said.
10. Stephen Colbert’s Nightly Monologues: It’s the best way I know to end the day on a happy and hopeful note because he can make me laugh at the same headlines that made me depressed earlier in the day. Gotta love that man!
I share Gayle’s addiction for keeping abreast of the news, even if it is depressing, and I also appreciate it when my favorite host makes those headlines funnier (I like Colbert, but Trevor Noah is my personal favorite!). I’m also jealous of anyone who’s a good cook. Hello Fresh is more my speed. 🙂
Gayle is doing a pre-order giveaway! Pre-order MACKENZIE’S LAST RUN and submit your receipt for a chance to win a mini flashlight keychain (so you won’t be caught without a flashlight like Mac was!) and a signed bookplate.
PLUS, one Middle Grade Teacher or Librarian who fills out the form will win the grand prize:
A 30 minute virtual author visit with your class!
Use the link below to submit your pre-order info.
You can also enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book!