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River's Edge Media

High School Runner (Freshman)


High School Runner by Bill Kenley

High school is never easy, but Sherman Leopold Kindle has a special skill for surviving the challenges of growing up. As a talented distance runner, Sherman enters his freshman year eager to excel as a member of the Pennsgap High School Snapping Turtles cross-country team. Yet the boy no sooner slips into his singlet for the first time than he discovers he faces as many obstacles off of the course as on it. Never mind the rivalries between team members, including Sherman’s own competitive relationship with his twin brother, Hyter, who also joins the squad. Never mind the jockeying for leadership and status that leave Sherman feeling defeated when he’s assigned to the lowliest team rank of “Bluebird” instead of the coveted “Eagle” standing. The Snapping Turtles’ coach, Joel Viddstein, is an eccentric, complicated man with a troubled home life. As Sherman navigates the rituals of his first year in high school, he must come to grips with experiences that leave him with deeply mixed feelings for Coach—including a shocking betrayal that teaches the boy the importance of honesty and respect.

 Written in the warm, nostalgic style of John L. Parker, Jr.’s class Once a Runner, Bill Kenley’s High School Runner is a novel about the value of self-discipline and training, and how athletic skills strengthen character. As Sherman learns to conquer his own physical limitations, he discovers the lessons that Coach Viddstein instills in him are essential to understanding his conflicted feelings for his family, for his teammates (all of whom cope with their own complicated home lives), for his Pennsgap classmates, and also for the grueling sport that seems demand more and more of him, both physically and emotionally. As the first installment in a series that will cover Sherman’s entire journey through his senior year, High School Runner introduces us to a compelling young man whose vulnerability and self-doubt symbolize the hurdles we must all overcome on the journey to adulthood. Equally important, the novel demonstrates that while individual races may be won or lost, the real sense of triumph comes from knowing how to pace oneself in this mad dash we call life.

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