Race Across the Sky by Derek Sherman
Release date: 2013 / 384 pages
Synopsis(from Amazon): Caleb Oberest is an ultra marathon runner, who severed all ties to his family to race brutal 100-mile marathons across mountains. Shane Oberest is a sales rep for a cutting-edge biotechnology firm, creating new cures for the diseases of our time. Shane has spent his life longing to connect with his older brother, but the distance between them was always too vast. Caleb’s running group live by strict rules, but Caleb is breaking one of them. He has fallen in love with a new member and her infant daughter. When Caleb discovers that the baby has a fatal genetic disease, he reaches out to Shane…
Review: When I first agreed to read and review Race Across the Sky, I thought it was a memoir about long-distance running and was initially disappointed to see it was a novel (before I began reading it). However, Sherman’s imagery and character development soon captivated me and I finished reading it in two days.
The narration alternates between the perspectives of two brothers who have grown distant as a result of the older brother’s obsession with long-distance running. The younger brother is a happily married new father, leaving behind a job as a pharmaceutical rep that has grown distasteful to embark on a new career focused on biotechnology. The older brother, Caleb, has spent the past decade with an exclusive and reclusive running club outside Boulder and only reaches out to his brother when he believes Shane can help the woman Caleb loves.
The information provided about biotechnology is fascinating — I look forward to learning even more on my own. And the sections on long-distance running are hypnotic, especially the imagery provided of the Front Range, as well as the single-minded dedication needed to push the human body to extreme limits. The shared, albeit convenient, parallel belief that the human body can “heal itself” — whether through biotechnology or kinetic energy — is a fascinating thread that joins the two plot lines as well as the two brothers.
Now, if this first-time novelist were to ask my advice before embarking on his second (and I hope there will be a second) novel, I would just mention that the reader does have to suspend her disbelief quite a bit. A series of coincidences — the younger brother happens to get a job at a lab that just happens to have a possible cure that the older brother needs, for example — or that Caleb could run from Yosemite to San Francisco nearly non-stop with a toddler on his back — are a bit much at times. Also, as a resident of the Front Range, I was surprised to read about the humidity and swarming mosquitoes in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We have a lot of natural challenges here on the Front Range — wildfires, extreme winds, large predators — but, happily, humidity and bugs are not amongst them. And, on a personal note, as a lucky owner of a pitbull, the metaphor of comparing cancer cells to a pitbull — who will attack anything in its path unless trained to do otherwise — hit a strikingly false note. Anyone who has spent time with pitbulls knows it is there “people-pleasing nature” that allows ill-intentioned people to train them to attack and not their nnate inclination. (This may sound nit-picky, but imagine if the author had stated Golden Retrievers instead — a breed that fails temperament tests more often than pitbulls, by the way: ). ”Pitbulls” are maligned quite often out of ignorance, but as an informed owner of one, I felt the need to point this inaccuracy out as well.
But despite a few “false notes,” I did enjoy this debut novel and appreciated learning about biotechnology and long-distance running. Interested in winning a free copy? Drop me a comment below!
Check out the other stops on the tour:
Monday, July 29th: BookNAround
Tuesday, July 30th: Super Kate
Wednesday, July 31st: A Musing Reviews
Monday, August 5th: The Well Read Redhead
Tuesday, August 6th: Jill Will Run
Tuesday, August 6th: Caribousmom
Wednesday, August 7th: River City Reading
Thursday, August 8th: Run to the Finish
Monday, August 12th: Book Club Classics!
Tuesday, August 13th: The Happy Runner
Wednesday, August 14th: A Patchwork of Books
Thursday, August 15th: The Boring Runner
Monday, August 19th: Between the Covers
Tuesday, August 20th: Ambitious Aspirations
Wednesday, August 21st: Overflowing Bookshelves