________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 7 . . . . October 14, 2011


Just Run. (Sports Stories).

Deb Loughead.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
103 pp., pbk., hc. & ebook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $8.95 (ebook).
ISBN 978-1-55277-668-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-699-5 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55277-669-7 (ebook).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Jeannine Stickle.

**1/2 /4



Once we've clambered down from the bleachers and rejoined the team on the field, Samantha won't look at me anymore. She's the third runner on our team. I have to rely on her to make a perfect pass during the race. She's the one who yells “stick” at me just before smacking my hand with the baton. How can she focus when she's so upset? I find it hard to concentrate myself with everything running in circles through my mind.

All I can think about is what Samantha told me. Why would Ella do it? Was Samantha right? Was Ella really trying to get Finn in trouble, maybe even get him kicked off the team?

I fumble my hand-off a few times and cringe when Coach Polito yells at me. The third time she adds. “Good thing Inez is almost better now. At least we can count on her to save the team!”

Fourteen-year-old Daisy loves running and is a strong member of her school's relay team until things begin to fall apart, both on her team and in her personal life, and Daisy works hard to put things back together. Lately, Daisy's team can't seem to cooperate, mostly due to a mysterious fight between twin sisters, Ella and Samantha. Something strange is going on on the boy's team, too, that keeps making the cutest boy on the team, Finn, late for track practice. At home, Daisy’s dad has been out of work for months and is doing something secret on the internet that is not job searching. Daisy later discovers he has been playing online poker. Her mom has been working long hours, and, when Daisy sees her having coffee with a man she does not know, Daisy begins to suspect her mom of cheating. But in Daisy's life, “running” is more a metaphor for “managing” rather than “running away” from her problems, and she has her hand in every situation, doing her best to fix things. Everything resolves itself at the end of the novel, with both the girls' and boys' teams' performance improving when the twins' fight is resolved, though it means Ella’s sitting the rest of the season out as punishment for sabotaging Finn's locker to make him late for practice. Daisy learns that her mom wasn't cheating with the man she was having coffee with, but, instead, she was arranging a job for Daisy's father. In fact, things work themselves out so smoothly that Daisy realizes that she had gotten herself too worked up about problems that are not her own and that she should just have fun and focus on her running, as her dad advises at the end of the novel.

      Just Run is plot-driven, fairly fast-paced, and entertaining However, some of the plot elements come across as slightly melodramatic and are sometimes resolved in overly simple ways. For example, when Daisy confronts her dad about his online gambling habit, it seems to be a startling wake up call for him, and it is seemingly all he needs to be able to quit cold-turkey. And after Daisy discovers Samantha posing as Ella in order to chase away a boy she doesn't think her sister should be dating, that sub-plot becomes confusing for the reader who needs to successfully navigate who is who and which twin is doing what Readers of sports fiction will be disappointed that this book does not focus much on the action of the sport, but the result is that the book will appeal to a broad audience, and readers who are athletic, like Daisy, will find it very easy to identify with her. This book is recommended for school and public libraries with large collections.


Jeannine Stickle received her MLIS from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC and is working in a library in Portland, OR.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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