Published on June 29, 2018
About Running Strong
Races are won in the turns.
Flannery Moore rides motocross bikes and can’t remember the last time she wore a dress. She’s also in love with one of her riding friends. Although nothing else could make her do so, Flannery decides to redefine herself into the kind of girl Tyler Dorset might fall for.
Despite his mother’s desperate efforts to keep Tyler close to home, he has dreams of his own. Dreams that will take him far away from sleepy and safe Bentley, North Carolina. Will Flannery understand how a well-played guitar solo moves his soul? Or will their bond fade away if he’s not riding his dirt bike anymore?
When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Flannery is compelled to make sacrifices, some obvious, some that break her heart. Will this mean settling for “less than” with Tyler when she longs for so much more?
For the sake of staying true to themselves, both Tyler and Flannery are pushed to make the choice between running away… or running strong.
This was such a sweet book. I read Running Lean some time ago when it came out, but I hadn’t realized this companion book existed. Running Strong takes place after the end of Running Lean and follows two characters who appeared in that first book: Connor’s friends Tyler and Flannery.
I think Flannery’s journey affected me the most. After her mom’s cancer diagnosis, Flannery struggles with a lot of fear and anxiety over what will happen with her mom. Her relationship with Tyler becomes both a happy place and another stressor to her. I found it easy to identify with her roiling emotions and her battle over wanting to be herself or change herself so she fit into popular ideas about femininity.
Ultimately, Flannery decides the person she needs to please, in terms of the way she dresses and acts, is herself. I liked that she’s both the motorcross girl and the girl who likes makeup.
Tyler’s guitar playing added a lot of depth to his character, I thought. It really showed a lot of passion and drive, and I liked that. His struggle to break away from an overprotective mom also felt pretty real.
Overall, I liked this book. In terms of spirituality, it’s definitely written from a Christian perspective, but I didn’t think it sounded preachy. It’s a sweet, clean story, perfect for readers who are just beginning to read romance or who are looking for a gentle love story that also tackles family issues. You can read my review of Diana Sharples’ first novel, Running Lean, here.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Major characters are white. One character has recently been through recovery from an eating disorder. Flannery’s mom receives a cancer diagnosis early Running Strong.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to sex—Tyler wants to make sure he doesn’t go too far with Flannery, since they both believe in waiting until marriage to have sex.
Both Flannery and Tyler’s families attend church. At one point, Tyler’s family meets with a pastor for counseling. He uses a Bible verse to talk about speaking life, or saying positive things, to one another.
Tyler’s mom believes his uncle drinks and uses drugs. Another family member died from a drug overdose in the past.