Published: July 2014
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads. From page one, Annie has a goal: complete training to run a marathon in the fall. The marathon her boyfriend was supposed to run before he suddenly passed away.
Annie's journey is not an easy one. First, she doesn't have a lot of money, and the author does a wonderful job of showing just how hard it is when even a $25 entrance fee for a 5k race can be a drain on a family who doesn't have much. Second, Annie does not like running. It doesn't come easy to her, so each leg of her training is a struggle. Even once she improves her conditioning, minor injuries and pains evolve into painful setbacks that threaten her ability to finish the race. If it were just for herself, that's one thing, but she's running in honor of someone else--and everyone knows it. People are counting on her.
The grief Annie experiences is also portrayed heartbreakingly honest without becoming schmaltzy. It's easy to forget Annie is still young given she's going through so much. When Annie meets fellow runner Jeremiah in her training group, she's protective of herself--she's still mourning her boyfriend and not ready to move on, despite how cute and friendly he is. Beyond that, Jeremiah is a daredevil who throws himself into extreme sports with little regard to his own safety. Exactly the type of guy Annie wants to steer clear from. Which makes this a great set-up for a romance :)
I consider this the author's best book since her debut Catching Jordan.