cover image The Long Run

The Long Run

James Acker. Inkyard, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-335-42862-2

His girlfriend dumping him is the final straw for Black Mexican track star Sebastian Villeda—Bash the Flash—who’s grieving the death of his mother while navigating tense relationships with his absent father and emotionally distant stepfather. He isolates himself from his friends and sets his sights on getting into Rutgers, the college his mother dreamed he’d one day attend. Hoping to end his self-imposed isolation, he begrudgingly shows up at a house party that’s quickly busted. There, he meets shot-putter classmate Sandro Miceli, who is Italian American and who recently broke his foot after falling off his roof while attempting to find some peace in his bustling household. After the boys share a drunken kiss, Bash, who never thought he was queer, looks for opportunities to hang out with Sandro. Their burgeoning romance hits a rough patch when Bash accidentally reveals one of Sandro’s secrets to his parents while attending dinner at their house. The duo’s alternating perspectives are depicted via realistically crass teen narratives that showcase complexly rendered characters and fraught encounters; Sandro’s erratic temper and Bash’s dawning self-awareness regarding his sexuality present refreshingly credible images of the messy lives and desires of contemporary teens. Ages 14–up. Agent: Carlisle Webber, Fuse Literary. (Feb.)