by Kari Aguila
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In a devastated country, those in charge rule by fear, inequality, and oppression. Rhia, a strong and independent sea captain, just wants to keep her head down and do her job, unitl she finds herself trapped in a re-education facility designed to help people fit into the rules of the New Way Forward. The warden claims to be guiding those in her care, but Rhia quickly sees the cracks in the system. As she is faced with torture and brainwashing, those cracks become gaping holes that threaten to pull her down into the depths of despair. Can Rhia resist the slow subversion of re-education and become the reluctant hero the new world needs?
RUN Ragged is the thrilling second story by the award-winning author of Women’s Work. This brilliantly imagined novel is both a scathing satire and a profoundly poignant look at the price we are willing to pay for peace and what we are willing to ignore to keep our conscience clear.
GENRE: Dystopian Women’s Fiction
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Charlotte beamed and continued, “Today and Thursday it’s morning class work on sustainability, agriculture, clean energy, or green building techniques. We get to apply the theories of what we learn in Modern History to real-world problems we’ll face in our towns.”
“What about afternoons?”
“After lunch each day we have practicals, then group discussions until dinner.”
“Hands-on work. Laboratories. Either in the fields, in the hangars, or in the Village.”
“Where the men are housed—in the shipping containers.” Charlotte turned to Rhia and smiled kindly. Deep crow’s-feet framed her eyes like bookends. “Don’t worry. You’ll figure it all out soon. I remember it was pretty confusing when I first got here, but it gets easier.”
“How long have you been here?”
Charlotte’s eyes sparkled with pride. “Seven months now.” She sat up tall and looked around at the women sitting in long rows beside her. “I can tell who the new people are. I can see it in their eyes and the way they hold themselves.” She leaned closer to Rhia. “When they’re new, it’s like they’re closed up. Their bodies are so hard and hunched. They don’t trust anyone and they never smile. But after a while, they start to understand how lucky they are to have been brought here.”
“Yes! Rhia, before I came to the Center, I was like a lost wanderer in the desert. I was so confused about all the troubles of the War and the times that followed. I used my own misfortune to try to get others to feel sorry for me, and I acted out with aggression and anger toward the very people who were trying to help me. I just didn’t understand how much progress we’ve made since women brought balance to this country.”
Charlotte laughed lightly and let her spoon rest on her tray. “You know, every morning when I wake up, I silently thank President Asakawa and all the women leaders of this country for everything they are doing. I’m so glad I’ve had the privilege of coming here and learning all about it.”
Rhia stared at her, unsure how to react. “Um, okay.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll understand soon enough.”
Charlotte went back to her breakfast, a pleasant smile playing at the corners of her mouth. Rhia glanced around at her other tablemates. Most sat silently or spoke quietly to each other, but when Rhia looked across the table at Ruth, the young woman met her gaze and held it. After several seconds, Rhia lowered her head and ate.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Kari Aguila was the recipient of an IndieReader Discovery Award for her first novel, Women’s Work. Her stories are gripping and thought-provoking looks at gender stereotypes and relationships set in a dystopic future. She is also an avid gardener, geologist, outdoor enthusiast and mother of three. Aguila lives in Seattle with her family. RUN Ragged is her second novel.
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