By Lisa Nowak
Webfoot Publishing, $9.99, 323 pages

Running Wide Open is the first of Lisa Nowak’s two-book tale about a young man who “[grows] up in [a] hard luck situation [and learns] to appreciate [his] own value after finding mentors who love [him] for who [he] is” (315). This book is a slow, inspirational read that will appeal to patient teen readers, and especially to those who enjoy fast cars and smart-mouths!

After getting caught drinking and tagging public property, fifteen-year-old Cody has two choices: military school or moving into his uncle’s trailer. His mother is narcissistic and emotionally abusive, and his father is codependent and doesn’t seem to have a problem getting rid of him. Cody is a sensitive, intelligent teenager, but his childhood abuse buries his authentic personality under a smartass façade.

Cody’s new mission is to make his Twinkie-eating, cartoon-drawing, stock-car racing Uncle Race’s life a living nightmare; however, as the black-sheep of the family, Race understands better than anyone why Cody behaves the way he does, and decides to love the mean out of him. Will a caring mentor be enough to help Cody heal from the years of abuse he’s endured, or will Cody’s anger continue to dominate his life?

Reviewed by Emily Davis