Review: The Long Run by James Acker

The Long Run by James Acker

The Long Run
James Acker
Inkyard Press
Published February 7, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Long Run

“A boldly authentic new voice in queer fiction.” —Abdi Nazemian, author of Stonewall Honor book Like a Love Story and The Chandler Legacies

Two track and field athletes find an unexpected but powerful love in this unapologetically blunt and unforgettably real YA debut.

Sebastian Villeda is over it. Over his rep. Over his bros. Over being “Bash the Flash,” fastest sprinter in South Jersey. His dad is gone, his mom is dead, and his stepfather is clueless. Bash has no idea what he wants out of life. Until he meets Sandro.
Sandro Miceli is too nice for his own good. The middle child in an always-growing, always-screaming Italian family, Sandro walks around on a broken foot to not bother his busy parents. All he wants is to get out and never look back.
When fate—in the form of a party that gets busted—brings these two very different boys together, neither of them could’ve predicted finding a love that they’d risk everything for…

The Long Run on Goodreads

My Review

I was excited to pick up THE LONG RUN in large part because it’s the first time I can remember a big Italian family being featured in a young adult book. I’m from a big Italian family, so I was really excited to see that portrayed on the page.

It was a little disappointing that they were kind of the bad guys in the story. Like, it was very believable, though heartbreaking, that the brash, high volume, high intensity behavior was ultimately weaponized against Sandro. It left him feeling completely bowled over and like it would never be safe to be himself. Which made sense considering how the family treated him. I did like the conversation he had with his mom late in the story and the things she said to fill in some of the reasons behind why things happened the way they did.

I also really liked Bash’s emotional journey, going from someone who couldn’t seem to get through a conversation about his feelings, to someone who was learning to do it, and trying to build his own support network.

Sandro and Bash are both notorious athletes at their school. I thought the decision to feature two athletes in a M/M romance was cool, too– again something I haven’t often seen. Early in the story, during the time that Bash is standoffish and emotionally closed, I had a harder time getting into the book. It was hard to find things about his character that I liked at that point.

But as I read, and as I watched Sandro and Bash grow, not only in their exploration of a relationship together, but pursuing their own personal growth, I felt more drawn into the story.

On the whole, I would say I enjoyed THE LONG RUN, though it didn’t scratch the “big Italian family in YA” itch for me in a satisfying way. I think fans of BEATING HEART BABY by Lio Min or OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg should check this one out.

The Long Run on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Bash is biracial and bisexual. Sandro is gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently. Bash’s friend and Sandro’s family use the F-slur. Bash and Sandro talk about it at one point and use the word back and forth with each other, as though reclaiming it.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two boys. In more than one scene, they undress together. Some brief or vague descriptions of them having sex.

Spiritual Content
Bash adds a prayer bead to his necklace every year since his mother died. References to prayer.

Violent Content
Bash and another boy get into a fight.

Drug Content
Bash and Sandro go to a party where teens are drinking alcohol. Bash gets drunk and sick. Bash’s friend smokes pot, but Bash doesn’t join him. Bash and Sandro drink alcohol together in a couple scenes. Sandro’s mom and Bash’s stepdad both serve alcohol to them with a meal.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of THE LONG RUN in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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