Thursday, February 16, 2017

High School Runner: Freshman by Bill Kenley
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: River's Edge Media, LLC 
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1940595221
May 15, 2015

Kenley’s debut work is a funny, gritty, and insightful look at the world of high school sports and the struggles of growing up, in a memoir-style novel. 

K1 begins high school full of conflicting feelings.  He’s excited, but nervous, about joining the track team following an unexpectedly successful community race earlier in the summer.  He is confronted with his embarrassing twin brother, Hyter, an emotionally unstable coach, psychopathic team captain, and the ups and downs of athletic competition, but the biggest challenge is facing his own failings.  K1, whose real name is Sherman, is from a small Indiana town and has discovered a hidden talent for running.  He hopes to distinguish himself from his twin brother on the track team and is crushed when Hyter also joins the team and turns out to be just as talented.  The team captain, Slade, is intimidating and rumored to be violent, cursing at everyone routinely.  K1 tries to stay out of his way and out of trouble, but ultimately is drawn into the drama of the team and betrayed by his own weakness and ambition.  Characters are multi-dimensional, richly drawn, and sympathetic.  They’re very real with both flaws and virtues.  There are some references to running lingo that non-runners may not understand, but they are only minimally distracting.  Dialogue is extremely real, including some explicit language.  Teens, particularly, will relate to the moral dilemmas and personal insecurities faced by the main character.  Adults who enjoy reminiscing about high school, or reflecting on youthful escapades will also find much to savor in this short, memoir-like, novel. 

This is a quick read, full of angst, cheating, winning, and small-town life with a very real feel.  It’s similar to popular TV shows like The Wonder Years and A Christmas Story and is a sure bet for sports fans and reluctant readers.    

1 comment:

  1. wonderful review with a great opening and conclusion. Full points.