Annie Winters, 18 and formerly a total non-runner, is now training to participate in the Country Music Marathon in Nashville to honor her former boyfriend, Kyle, who died six months previously. They had dated for three years, and both thought eventually they would marry. Running a marathon was Kyle’s dream, and Annie blames herself that Kyle couldn’t finish it.
She hired a marathon trainer, Matt Brown, and he drives Annie relentlessly. Matt is assisted by his younger brother Jeremiah (“Jere”), 20, who seems to have fallen into InstaLove with Annie. Annie is attracted to Jere, but Jere is into extreme sports, and Annie is terrified to get attached to him; what if something happens to him too? The risk of caring is too high, she thinks, and she insists they just be friends.
As it happens, Jere attends the same nearby college – Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where Annie is starting in the fall. So it seems like the stars are aligning in their favor. But then something does happen to Matt, and Annie has to come to a realization about her life and how she should live it.
Discussion: Kenneally is an appealing writer, using just the right mix of teenage patois to make her characters sound authentic. I also enjoyed the way the format of the book resembled a runner’s journal. The details of training for the marathon were made interesting enough, and integrated well enough into the story, to add a lot of interest (as well as to make me feel guilty for sitting on the couch to read about it).
There were some issues left dangling: possible eating disorders of her roommates? the not-totally-resolved tension between Annie and her BFF Kelsey? the cause of and/or resolution to Jere’s addiction to extreme sports?
Evaluation: There is a lot good about this book. I really liked the relationships portrayed between Annie and her family, and especially, between Jere and his family. I loved the ending too; it seemed just perfect. I would have liked the book overall a lot more had it not been for the curious case of Jere’s InstaLove.
Published by Sourcebooks, 2014