Book Review: Born to Run by Michael Morpurgo

I thought I’d review a book that is very close to my heart. As  child I’d read a ridiculous amount of animal stories but as I grew older I began to distance myself from them. That is, until Born to Run was released in 2008. I read it by chance since it was new in the library and, well, I love dogs. For those of you who aren’t more familiar with Michael Morpurgo, he’s a UK author famous for writing books which often do feature animals. The most well known ones include The Butterfly Lion and of course, War Horse. Yes, the War Horse that was adapted into the famous play and film.

His tagline on his website reads ‘Books for Everyone’ and in the case of Born to Run, this is once again true. It isn’t a long book, but that’s not to say it isn’t moving. It follows the story of one greyhound who is rescued by a boy name Patrick along with his litter mates. What follows is a sadly realistic life of some of the UK’s greyhound population, a breed mainly known for its work out the racetrack.

Michael Morpurgo is expert here at conveying the thoughts of the our main protagonist (the dog) as he goes through all the trials and tribulations of his life. The dog he ends up as at the end of the book is very different to the one he began as. Before you scoff at me for being childish: I genuinely challenge you to read this book and not be moved (I may have cried several points: I usually never cry reading books). Since I read it all those years ago, I’ve been more aware of animal cruelty and particularly those of sports animals than ever. You might think the premise is childish, the story merely to attract children or to illicit emotional responses.

Morpurgo is a much greater writer than this. Even when using cliches he pulls them off without being overly contrived, and his language is accessible whilst still managing to be engaging enough for a mature audience. Even if you hate animals, I still believe the story is still powerful enough for you to come away having learnt something.

Altogether, Born to Run is a beautiful book that transcends its YA tag to be both poignant and inspiring. The copy of Born to Run I read all those years back? I bought it off my library: it still sits in pride of place on my shelf today.

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