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Reviewed by Thora Moffat
Opening sentence
Thick sea fog rolls in before sunrise. The water isn’t far away, but it is as though it isn’t there at all. I close my eyes for a moment, and I hear it, the slapping of the tide against the rock wall.
The cover of the book immediately draws you in and it doesn't disappoint. The story is told through the eyes of Mickey, and follows her growing up in New Zealand, starting as a 7-year-old and jumping to her as a teenager in subsequent chapters. Intertwined are chapters that flip to her being an adult. It is easy to follow as the ‘growing up’ chapters are numbered, whereas when she is an adult the title of the chapter is The Race.

The book is easy to read as it has clear characters, and it is a simple plot. Mickey is bullied at school and is dyslexic. She discovers cross country running through a race at school and realises that is her passion in life. Mickey is a lost soul though, and we follow her journey through life and all its trials and tribulations. She is an extremely likeable main character with an incredible determination which becomes more evident as she grows older. The clever way the chapters are done adds to this gripping novel. I found myself dying to know what was happening when she was an adult in The Race chapters, and then wanting to know more about her childhood. This is a story about family dynamics, love, feeling lost and betrayal. The ending ties all the separate chapters together in a gripping crescendo.

Although I am not a runner, and have no desire to be one, it is fascinating to follow Mickey’s journey, learning about the gruelling training regime that she had to endure. There is a scene of sexual abuse and self-harm that may affect some readers and I would categorise it for young adults and older.

The book is easy to read with simple language, and you feel a deep connection with the character Mickey. You want her to succeed and find happiness, you have empathy for her, and I found it a page turner. As she was the main character and it was her voice throughout the novel, this also added to the personal aspect of the book.

This book is not only about running, but also about relationships and the complex nature of them. Mickey goes through many emotions growing up, her older siblings moving out of home (who she is close to) and then her spreading her wings and moving away from her Mum and moving to a different town.

This book could be about any determined teenager with a passion and drive for sport, it gives an inside look into sports training, and it must be noted the author used to be a competitive swimmer so has first-hand experience of the gruelling training regime. It was fascinating to be brought into a world of training and the descriptions of them were detailed and interesting. I also found the emotions Mickey felt when she was running interesting. I’d never thought about why people choose to run, particularly marathons, but there was an insight I’ve learned from reading this book.

I would highly recommend this book, not just for people who are runners, or even active, but anyone who is interested in reading about the dreams of a young woman growing up in New Zealand with a passion and determination to run.

- Thora is 16 years old and lives in Nelson
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781038728517
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2023
Ages: 15+
Themes: Young Adult, Coming-of-age