10 May 2010

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

I do not really like running, but I do like the idea of running.  I am not a very good runner, but I can certainly understand the way that Annie feels about it.  She loves running.  This is different from liking something.  Liking is for things like weekends and televisions.  Loving is for things like her grandpa, laughter, and running.  She is not running in order to get somewhere, like her best friend Max.  Annie likes to run barefoot through the town and park where she feels free.  Sometimes I want to break out in a run for these very same reasons.  Some people feel this way when they paint or write or sing or swing a baseball bat.  We all need something, though that lets us free our minds and focus on what is important.

Max is Annie's best friend and running partner, her "sideways shadow."  Though he runs barefoot, too, he runs for completely different reasons.  For Max, his running feet are his tickets out of town.  He wants to make it big, and running is how he plans to do it.  He wants Annie to join the track team with him, but she can't see the point in running around in circles ... in a "herd"... with shoes on ... just to win a medal.

Annie's 7th grade school year is full of changing relationships.  Her relationship with Max is strained over their different viewpoints; her relationship with her grandfather shifts as he begins to lose his memory; her family relationships change as a new baby is welcomed into their home.  Her relationship with running, though, remains constant, keeping her heart strong no matter what changes she may face.  Heartbeat is a novel in verse that lets you run right along side Annie through all the hills and valleys of her 7th grade year.

(c) 2004          Publisher:  Harper Collins          Pages:  180