Review: Run For It All by Carolyn LeVine Topol

When fifteen-year-old David Martin is forced to go live with his dad and his dad’s partner in Connecticut, he dreads leaving his comfortable New York City life with his two moms, especially because his dad hasn’t exactly been there for him over the years.

But with both of his moms off on a year-long job in Europe, he’s got no choice. Another thing he doesn’t have a choice about? His growing attraction to other boys. To help him deal with it all, David takes up running, first with his dad’s partner, and then with his new crush and captain of the track team, the openly gay Kevin Ringer.

After David and Kevin are attacked in the locker room following a meet, David must come to terms with his own insecurities as he navigates the ups and downs of first love, gets to know his dad in a whole new light, and tries to create a life for himself far from the world he once knew.

This was a sweet, low angst YA novel with some great supporting characters. Rob, David’s biological father, is a news reporter, and in the beginning he did a pretty craptastic job of being present for his son. Rob was missing the opportunity to really connect meaningfully with David, and David was becoming resentful. The saving grace was Steve, Rob’s partner of seven years, and the Track and Field coach at the high school David was attending for the year. They developed a close relationship of trust, and respect, and this made it easier for David to settle into his temporary home.

I appreciated that with Rob’s failings as a parent on display, this wasn’t fixed quickly. It took time for David and Rob to bond. It wasn’t fluffy, or rushed to resolve. The characters had to work for it, and eventually get their footing under them to start to bond. Steve, being a high school coach, and having the background working with teens, facilitated this relationship building, and he was an important part of this family unit. He was also forever supportive and loved Rob unconditionally through his own unfulfilled wants and needs. That kind of loyalty is both a show of strong character, and a modelling of a strong relationship. I appreciated that there was no real drama with the parents. It made the transition into this new life more believable for David. There were some minor problems along the way, but it didn’t turn into an angsty or melodramatic storyline.

Kevin and David had some interesting and tense moments. David has the curse of his father, of overthinking and jumping to conclusions. Thankfully he toned it down when it was important, but it was how the drama points were set up. It was both frustrating and believable. Teen angst varies. There are some who turn into emo brats, with over the top reactions to minor issues, and some just cruise along in life, taking the hits as they come. Kevin was definitely a cruisy guy. He was the perfect balance to David’s overreactions. I appreciated them as friends and as a couple. Their relationship building was paced well throughout the story.

This was a feel good story, about a teen settling into a new life, making new friends, and finding a passion for something he never thought he would try. I liked the central theme of running. It was exciting and gave the story something extra. There was passion in both sport and the life David was building in Connecticut. I felt that passion throughout the story.

Some minor problems that I hope were picked up on the final edit before release. As I received an Advanced Reader Copy, there are sometimes minor errors beforehand that I expect and ignore, but in Chapter 26 Loc 2124 and Chapter 26 Loc 2176 of my mobi copy, there were two repeated sentences which drew me out of the story. If this was picked up, ignore my remark, it certainly didn’t diminish the story, but I would feel horrible if I didn’t point it out and it hadn’t been polished in the final release.

Overall a lovely YA story, and I look forward to seeing more work from this author.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion

Find on Harmony Ink Press or Goodreads

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