Review: Running with Lions by Julian Winters

4 of 5 stars

I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley for review.

With all our wedding excitement this week, I almost forgot to post my review of RUNNING WITH LIONS! Which would have been incredibly sad, because this is quite a fun book.

I’ve been on a queer sports stories kick lately, which means this book was right up my ally. I admit, when I originally requested it for review I thought it was a graphic novel and I was a tiny bit disappointed when it wasn’t, but not for long. This book was filled with so much fluffy, tropey goodness: best friends to enemies to lovers, accidental kissing, summer romance and more. Also, the main character is a bi guy and his love interest is a snarky Muslim boy? Yes please!

There were some parts of this book that weren’t quite for me. I felt like I missed some small things because I know nothing about soccer, but I learned as we went. Some of the comments still felt unnecessarily heteronormative, which was surprising to me since it felt like the rest of the representation was pretty good. I got over it, but I was a little disappointed. I also had some trouble keeping track of who knew what and how folks felt about each other from day to day. There were a lot of folks bad at communicating, which unfortunately made its way into the writing. Also, as a personal side note, I was really peeved that anytime someone smoked they threw their cigarette butt onto the ground. The biologist and environmentalist in me was really displeased.

This book also did some things really well in addition to the fun tropes. I appreciated the portrayal of body positivity and body image issues in guys, because that’s not something we see a lot. I liked that not everyone ended up with their first crush at the end. I was able to see myself and my anxiety in the main character’s anxiety, especially regarding his upcoming transition to college. That was absolutely me my senior year and is still me any time I have big chances coming or big decisions to make.

All in all, this story was a fun and mostly light summer read. I would recommend it to fans of Check, Please! and contemporary teen romances.

Author: SeeOwlRead

They/She. I’m a queer reviewer and librarian.

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