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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Runaway Haley: An Imagined Family Saga is a work of fiction in the historical drama genre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author William A. Thomas Jr. Inspired by the historical census reports recording the journey of the Haley family in the 1800s, this book fills in the blanks between the census data with a fictionalized account of what two generations of the family experienced. From Michael Haley’s arrival and life of adventure to the stories of his orphaned children picking up the pieces after his death, the book tells the story of the Haley family through strife and heartbreak.
This book is a fascinating exercise in storytelling via filling in the blanks of existing historical information, and I’m excited to see this method used so skilfully by William A. Thomas Jr. The names and dates and spartan pieces of information that can be found in census data, marriage certificates and various local records never truly bring into focus the vivid lives that the people being recorded once lived. But that is precisely a gap in our understanding of the past that Runaway Haley seeks to fill. Using very robust and professionally researched historical knowledge of the times in which the Haley family lived, and through connecting the dots left by the available records, this novel brings the whole family to life and tells a gripping and inspiring story about a family of immigrants living through a turbulent time of much change in American history. I happily recommend this book to all readers.