Sunny Lancaster is a home-schooled
almost-13-year-old torn between duty to run and passion for dance in the latest
compulsively readable installment of Reynolds’ lauded Track series.
On the surface, African-American Sunny appears to have a wealthy, comfortable life that his less-fortunate teammates on the Defenders cannot help but envy. Privilege, however, cannot hide pain, and Sunny feels smothered by guilt over his mother’s death immediately after his birth and crushed beneath the weight of his father’s expectations for him to become the marathon runner that his beloved mother no longer can be. Once again, Reynolds cements his reputation as a distinguished chronicler of the adolescent condition by presenting readers with a winsome-yet-complex character whose voice feels as fresh as it is distinctive, spontaneously breaking out into onomatopoeic riffs that underscore his sense of music and rhythm. Living in an empty house with colorless walls and unfulfilled familial expectations cannot dim the effervescent nature of a protagonist who names his diary to make it feel more personal, employs charts and graphs to help him find the bravery to forge his own path as a discus-throwing dancer, and finds artistic inspiration in the musical West Side Story. Defenders introduced in earlier novels receive scant treatment, but new characters, such as Sunny’s blue-haired teacher/dance instructor, Aurelia, are vibrant and three-dimensional. Main characters’ races are not explicitly mentioned, implying a black default.
Another literary pacesetter that will leave Reynolds’ readers wanting more. (Fiction. 10-14)