Thirteen-year-old Lionel has perfected the art of dodging, escaping, and running away. But while he may have adapted his behavior as a means of self-preservation, his plan has left him lonely, angry, and afraid.
Isolated by his weight and shyness, Lionel’s anger only intensifies as he endures bullying at school and at home. Whether it is the alpha boy at school’s constant chirping about how fat he is or his mother’s boyfriend’s comments about his IQ, Lionel finds himself constantly apologizing. By accident, Lionel starts running. Even though he has no confidence, he meets others who seem to believe in him, and his gradual transformation begins inspiring others to make changes in their own lives. Lionel even gains the attention of the most beautiful girl in middle school. But will his low self-esteem continue to control him, or will he be able to run without running away? Lionel’s stumbling steps will be an inspiration for anyone looking to start down a new path. And while his transformation may be a little too tidy, his selflessness and generosity make this about more than one individual. Multiple cultures—Indian, black, Latinx, and white—all coexist in Lionel’s neighborhood, making this story an inclusive one; though Lionel's race is not specified in the text, the cover photo of a white boy is likely to cause readers to see him as such.
Lionel’s determination to go the distance will inspire others to take their marks. (Fiction. 10-14)