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Friday, September 2, 2022
Freerunner Kick-Off Package
About the Book
Author: Kathy Cassel
Release date: March, 2022
Set against the backdrop of the sport of freerunning, Kia must decide whether she will continue running or face her past abuser in order to save another child.
Night is Kia’s favorite time, when she freeruns to outdistance the memories of abuse she suffered as a young child. But when former reality television star Terrence Jones arrives at their school as the new head track coach, things begin to change in unpredictable ways. Kia tries out for the team to fit in, but just as she’s gaining a new sense of normal, her abuser steps back into her life. Not only that, but being on the track team causes even more turmoil. Why does the assistant coach, Cassandra Clark, dislike Terrence Jones so much, and even more troubling, why does Coach Clark dislike her so much? As the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, Kia realizes she has to choose between running from her past or saving a child from the same sort of abuse she suffered. But will she have the courage to do so?
Kathy Cassel is author of more a dozen fiction and non-fiction titles for preteens and teens, including 2021 Selah Award finalist Freerunnerand the iParenting award winner Christian Girls Guide series. Kathy has lived on three different continents with her USAF husband, has eight children, five adopted from Haiti and the United States, and six grandchildren. To better relate to her characters, she enjoys learning their skills such as whitewater rafting, scuba diving, and riding a motorcycle, but draws the line at sky diving.
More from Kathy
For many years I wrote devotion books for preteens and early teens. I tried to make the devotions both fun and interesting. I wanted preteens and early teens to see that the Bible is relevant to them today. But I realized that the readers I most wanted to reach weren’t likely to pick up the Bible or a daily devotion book. But they might read a story. These are the teens who are hurting inside. Those who have been abused, neglected, bullied, abandoned, or who face challenges. Those who may have lost hope and who need healing. Those who need to realize that God still has a plan for them no matter what has happened.
So I turned to writing faith-based, issue-based young adult books. It hasn’t been easy. There are a multitude of issue based books in the general market, but these can be graphic and offer little hope or healing, yet they are snatched off the shelves and are some of the most popular books. Mine are not graphic and mention God throughout the book. They are not likely to reach library shelves. So the challenge is to get them into the hands of the readers who most need them.
Freeerunner is about a 15-year-old girl who is sexually molested/abused (I never give details so readers can interpret what happened based on their own knowledge and experiences) by a family member when she is only six. She doesn’t get help. No one talks about it. So when the abuser walks back into her life now that she’s 15, she has a lot of unresolved feelings. For adults reading this book, the story may trigger negative feelings or bring up a painful past. But don’t let that turn you away from the book because it may be a powerful resource for those experiencing what Kia did. For teens, the book gives them a character they can relate to. The story lets them know they are not alone and don’t need to suffer in isolation. Like Kia they may find the courage to finally speak out and get help. And they may come to realize that God has an amazing plan for them no matter their past.
So for some the book may simply be an entertaining sports story, while for others it can be a springboard to talk about their own problems. I am hoping this book will become a resource for parents, counselors, pastors, youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, and librarians to share with teen readers.
And above all, I hope the story is a source of hope and healing to those who need it.
This has been one of the hardest books I have ever had to read. It triggered anxiety in me and brought back my painful childhood. To say that I can relate to Kia is sad. I have to face the fact that her story and mine are very similar. We both suffered trauma from family members. I was so angry as I read how she endured what her grandfather had done to her. I understand how she felt like no one would believe her.
The author has written a story that hits the mark on a subject that many have lived through. Why is it so hard for people to believe a child when they say they have been abused by someone? I had so much anger towards her grandfather that I could have hit him. His arrogance is horrible and what he does to children is inexcusable. Now comes the hard part for Kia when her best friend tries to share Jesus with her. She feels abandoned by God and doesn’t understand why He allowed things to happen to her. Like me, she never had a childhood. I grieve with her for the lost little girl in both of us.
I do think the author has done an excellent job at writing a book about a subject that gives readers an understanding of what abusers do. Kia is strong and determined to make sure her grandfather doesn’t hurt another child. I won’t say much of what happens in the story but I will say that the hardest part for me and others is to forgive the people who hurt us.
The term “free running” is new to me. I did like learning more about it. I ran and jumped with Kiana and felt free as she conquered tricks. Her best friend Thorn is a bright light in her life. He listens to Kia, supports her and believes in her. I don’t want to overlook how important he is in the story. He listened and encouraged Kia to act on her suspicions. I’m glad she had someone grounded in the word to show her that God does have a plan for her life. He deals with some tough family issues as well and it was compelling to read how he trusted God to show him what to do.
Kia’s mother is someone I was upset with throughout the entire story. She allowed her father to dictate her life and should have stood up and protected her own daughter. Why does she allow him to move in with her and Kia knowing what he has done? I can’t explain it because my mother turned her back on me as well. I have to say that although this book triggered me, I appreciate a writer who is not afraid to share the truth about a subject that needs to be addressed more. Let’s not turn our back on someone when they cry out for help. Thank you for a book that opens doors to forgiveness and shedding light on the darkness that surrounds those who are afraid to speak up.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.