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Review: Nowhere to Run by Claire J. Griffin

Title: Nowhere to Run
Author: Claire J. Griffin
Year Published: 2013

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 110
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): USA (Washington, D.C.)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):  When you've got a friend who's got your back, life is good. Calvin has Deej--and a coach who thinks Calvin can win the championship in the 100-meter dash, a little brother who looks up to him, a boss who trusts him with the keys to the shop, and Momma, who made him promise to stay in school. And then there's Junior, the girlfriend of Calvin's dreams. You have to take things slow with Junior, since she's daddy's girl, but she's worth it. But when Calvin and Deej get suspended from school on a trumped up charge, things start to fall apart. Deej entangles them both in Norris' web, and suddenly Calvin has tough choices to make. Can he hold on to what he's got without turning his back on his best friend?

Review: This book is a quick read at only 110 pages, but it has a lot going for it. I was reading a different book that was going slowly for me so changed over to this one and read it in just two sittings. I was pulled in by the characters, the story, and the moral dilemmas posed by the author.

Calvin is a good kid. He lives in a part of D.C. that is no up-and-coming, his family doesn't have much money (but they have one another and a good foundation of love and ambition), his school is terrible, and his friends are living on the edge. But Calvin has running to keep him going; it's the thing that keeps his out of trouble and in school. However, Calvin is a teenager and he wants to have fun, date a smart and pretty girl, and help his friend. It is all very real. The other characters are real as well, from his caring boss who will only put up with so much to his sweet girlfriend and his friend, Deej, who isn't doing as well as Calvin.

The story is a simple one: family (the "bad guy," Norris is Deej's cousin) and peer pressure lead to poor choices. However, this book shows that there are multiple viewpoints and truths in any situation. Calvin wants to do the right thing for everyone: back up his friend; run in the Championship; protect Momma from Norris' extortion; and be a good boyfriend. Being all those things isn't easy and the author does a very good job of showing the moral dilemma that Calvin faces. Doing the right thing often isn't doing the easy thing.

It's easy when reading a book to say, "I would never do that," but in reality, when faced with violence, humiliation or hurting a best friend, most of us don't always make the wisest choices. For Calvin, knowing what's right and what's right are two very different things.

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