216p. Cormorant/Dancing Cat. Sept. 2017. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781770864887.
Gr 5–8—Lionel is a teen trying his best to be invisible. Retreating into video games is Lionel's only escape from the anxiety, depression, and self-doubt that come from being bullied by classmates at school and by his mother's boyfriend at home. Lionel starts running, and his life begins to change for the better. He engages with others in the community, meets a girl, and takes pride in discovering that he's good at something. The more comfortable Lionel feels in his own skin, the more he inspires and transforms those around him. Although the novel could be criticized for simplifying mental illness for the sake of happy endings, Lionel's voice is authentic, occasionally heartbreaking, and sincere. Secondary characters, such as Lionel's mother and his crush Kiana, sometimes feel like props to further Lionel's story as opposed to fully fleshed out characters with motivations of their own. The narrative ends on an uplifting note, which gives the impression that the pride, sense of community, and self-worth that come with running are more important than winning any race.
VERDICT Appropriate for reluctant middle grade readers, this title may provide comfort and inspiration to kids who struggle with fitting in and finding their own voice. An additional purchase.

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