Saturday, October 8, 2016

Run for It All by Carolyn LeVine Topol

When both his moms take an offer for a year of employment in Europe, fifteen-year-old David Martin has no choice but to head to Connecticut to stay with his dad and his dad’s partner. Not only is he leaving behind the life he loves in New York City, he’s unsure how he feels about staying with a father he barely knows, one who has been far from supportive during David’s life.

If he doesn’t have enough on his plate, David is also confused and wrestling with his burgeoning sexual feelings… toward other boys. Running with his dad’s partner takes the edge off, but training with the hot—and openly gay—track team captain, Kevin Ringer, produces a different kind of rush.

An assault on David and Kevin in the locker room gives David a new perspective on his own identity, his feelings for Kevin, and his relationship with his dad. Life is very different from what David is used to, but he’s determined to carve out a place for himself.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Run for It All was a very enjoyable M/M young adult romance. I liked watching the transformation that took place in David as he went from the sullen teen who reluctantly agreed to spend a year with his father in a small town in Connecticut to a confident young man who embraced life with two dads, developed a love of running, and fell in love. Admittedly, I doubt that many 15-year-olds are capable of falling in love, but Topol has created a believable romance between David and Kevin by not making it the focal point of the book, but rather giving readers a look at David as whole – as a son, as a friend, as a runner, as a teammate, and, eventually, as a boyfriend. So as David grows as a person, it makes the feelings he develops for Kevin and the progression of their relationship believable.

Even though it’s clear at the beginning of the book that he agreed to it, David is unhappy with his new living arrangement. But as he is being raised by two moms and his biological father is also gay, he understands the importance of what his mothers are doing for gay rights and the need for him to spend the year with Rob and Steve (his father and father’s partner), so he plans to grin and bear it, all while hoping that he won’t die from boredom as West Hartford has almost nothing to do, especially when compared to New York City. Considering his age, David does an admirable job of not taking out his dissatisfaction with the situation on Steve, who David doesn’t know very well despite being his father’s partner of seven years. Oddly enough, it is Steve who makes the transition go smoothly and plays a vital part in David’s growth over the course of the year.

One of the things I enjoyed about Run for It All was the supportive attitude and reasonableness of the parents involved. Granted, David and Kevin demonstrate repeatedly throughout the book that they’re both responsible young men who have goals they’re willing to work hard to achieve. But rather than trying to block their attempts to have time alone with one another, both David’s fathers and Kevin’s parents make it clear that their son’s safety is the most important thing to them – so they insure the boys have some time alone in their respective homes occasionally. The parents are realistic enough to understand that there’s little they can do to prevent the boys from being together when they decide to take that step and, instead, chose to concentrate on providing a safe environment for them. In my opinion, it not only sent the message to the boys that their safety was important, but that their parents trusted and respected them enough to know that they wouldn’t rush the physical aspects of their relationship. Fortunately, Kevin and David validated that trust by taking their time to get to know one another before taking that next step, and when they’re relationship did become physical, neither of them allowed it to interfere with their other responsibilities – then again, training for long-distance running events didn’t give them a lot of time to get into any trouble. While there’s not an athletic bone in my body, I enjoyed how the running stayed central to the storyline as it was what played an important part in David’s growth. I quite enjoyed Run for It All and look forward to reading more of Topol’s writing.

Age Recommendation: 14 and up. While it is obvious that the main characters eventually “go all the way,” it occurs off the page with a fade-to-black setup. The on-page sexual contact is limited to kissing and mutual masturbation.

Born in Brooklyn, CAROLYN LEVINE TOPOL grew up just outside New York City. Three passions dominated her life: reading, writing, and theater. Having always dreamed of writing her own version of The Great American Novel, it took her many years to discover her most heartfelt stories took their form in the creation of M/M romances. Sharing her writing with a small circle of online friends, Carolyn received advice, encouragement and joy from their feedback. Spending her days working as an executive assistant in a synagogue, Carolyn relishes the quiet wee hours of the morning to lose herself in writing of the loves, passions, and adventures driving her characters. With the backing of a supportive husband and two young adult children, Carolyn continues to explore the fabulous world of gay romance with the philosophy “Every person deserves their happy ending.”

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Run for It All by Carolyn LeVine Topol to read and review.

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