London 1800. Jupiter is young, black, living at the African Academy in Clapham with other boys from wealthy Sierra Leonean families. His life is a mixture of privilege and dispossession as he copes with the cruelty of his teachers, the rivalries and tensions among his schoolmates, a sense of duty towards his younger brother Robert and guilt over the death of another brother in Africa. Throughout, Jupiter strives to maintain his dignity, his Christian faith and pride in his roots.

But beyond the relative ease of Clapham lies another London, where poor black communities struggle for survival along the squalid reaches of the Thames. A world where Jupiter’s education and background mean nothing and skin colour alone determines fate. Into this world his younger brother Robert vanishes, and Jupiter is obliged to follow …

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. 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.