On occasion I come across a book I want to steal and tell people I wrote it, a book that delivers challenging strings of strong words that deliver dilemmas and consequences, in a style that you hadn't hoped for, but were glad when it hit you like a bucket of cool water. Away Running, by David Wright and Luc Bouchard, the story of two young football players coming into their own under the backdrop of social turmoil, is one of those books.
The story opens with Matt, Free and their French teammates confronted with belligerent police officers, only to trip back in time, and space, showing how these young men got to their present situation. Annoyed with a wealthy mother, Montreal quarterback Mathieu (Matt) runs away to Paris and plays for an American football team. The roster is made up of neglected teenagers, primarily of North African descent, and is allowed two foreign players via the rules of their club. The second foreign player is defensive back Free, an African-American exchange student from Texas. Matt and Free work with team captain Moussa (a truly fun character known as Moose) to turn this squad of underdogs into a force to be reckoned with. As friendships and relations flourish, the characters become inundated with the heart of the conflicts of Paris and their own lives. Classism and racism come to light as subplots of romance flesh out this character driven story and supply the reader with something tangible to hold on to.
Authors Wright and Bouchard, who met playing football in Paris and draw on personal experience to add detail and realism to this fictional story, address complicated social realities with grace, while leaving the reader room to explore these ideas and come to their own conclusions, and once the story slides back to the present violence boils over in an all too real picture. The reader sees this coming, hopes it doesn't happen, but know it will. It had to. That is the kind of storytelling one finds in Away Running.
This book has fire behind the words that sneak up and burn you down when you least expect it. Away Running is complicated and thought provoking, a book of physical untamed words. It also has poetry, and asks questions that should be discussed openly, and never swept under the rug of readers. Orca publishing has a winner on its hands, it should be celebrated and talked of in a way that makes a reader want to steal the story and call it their own. I did, and so will you.
Away Running Paperback - April 12, 2016
by David Wright (Author), Luc Bouchard (Author)
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers (April 12, 2016)
(Fiction. 14 & up)