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Book Review: Running by Natalia Sylvester


Running is a debut young adult novel from Peruvian American author Natalia Sylvester. Running tells the story of Mariana Ruiz who is a Cuban American teenager and also the daughter of Florida’s Republican Senator Anthony Ruiz. Mariana has gotten used to being the daughter of a senator but that all changes when her Dad runs to be the GOP party nominee for president. As the Ruiz’s family begins to be more in the media, Mariana realizes that she is not fond of the added attention, specifically when an interview team comes to their home to peer deeply into their lives. Tensions rise in the Ruiz family when Mariana learns more about the basis of her father’s campaign and as she begins to find her voice.

With time Mariana realizes that you need to fight for what you believe even if it can cause tensions your family because the issues that matter most will impact more than yourself.

My Review

Running is a look that greatly surprised me! I had not been aware of this new release back in July until I saw all of bookstagram, the bookish corner of the instagram, raving about Natalia Sylvester’s debut. I immediately went to my favorite audiobook bookstore, Libro Fm to pick up a copy to read in the car because that is where I am spending a lot more of my time recently. Right away I was blown away by the audiobook narrator Frankie Corzo. Seriously, I think one of the reasons I loved this book so much and the narration could be one of the reasons because the narrator changed their voice with the dialogue the emotion of the characters. It also helps that Natalia Sylvester wrote one amazing debut.

As a big reader of young adult novels, I am always on the search for books that activate young readers and other readers of young adult novels alike to use their voice to make a change. Natalia Sylvester’s Running is definitely a novel that makes you think. Our main character, Mariana is the daughter of the GOP candidate who is running for the presidential nomination from the Republican Party. Mariana, a Cuban American, tries to stay out of her father’s politics even when her classmates criticize Mariana’s father, Senator Anthony Ruiz. After Mariana begins to see now different policies her father worked on are affecting the people around her, Mariana looks to an outspoken classmate to help her find her voice and to be able to go against her family’s  image+0 fight for justice.

I thoroughly enjoyed Running  not only for the incredible message of activating for social justice but also for the representation. The book centers around the Cuban American Ruiz family who firmly root themselves in their heritage. Additionally, this book looks to accurately represent the Latinx population of Miami which can be seen within all of the characters you meet within the novel. I do not want to spoil the book for anyone but there are diss some amazing and supportive LGBTQIA+ characters which I always love to see.

Although it is a young adult novel, Running, explores heavy topics of politics and family, finding your identity while being told who you should be, and advocating for what you believe in. Running was a book I really enjoyed and will recommend to everyone because it was really unique. Although I felt that Mariana’s character could be very self -centered at times, I understand that Mariana is written as a teenager and it is typical for teenagers (and adults alike) to not understand the privilege they hold.

Overall, young adult readers who enjoyed Red, White, and Royal Blue and With the Fire on High  will love this book. If you are looking for another review of this smashing debut, check out FBC founder Renee’s podcast episode with her mini review

Claudia Neu has a passion for language immersion and intersectional children's literature. When she is not working with children or reading, you can find Claudia cuddling with her cat or trying to keep her houseplants alive. Check out her instagram @claudianeureads for more book recommendations and reviews. Favorite genres: queer literature, contemporary fiction, and young adult.

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