Painful is the word that best describes Stacey’s struggle with anorexia in Diana L. Sharples’s young adult novel, Running Lean. The anorexia influences every area of the teenage girl’s life, including her relationship with her motorcycle-loving boyfriend Calvin. Though Stacey’s underlying problems cause major tension with Calvin, he is determined to help her because he loves her, and she supported him when his older brother died.
There are several reasons I admire this novel. First, the details of Stacey’s battle with anorexia are realistic. There were moments when I cringed at her choices as she starved herself and clung desperately to Calvin. Second, I enjoyed the dramatic climax of the story, which I won’t spoil. Third, I appreciated the supporting characters because their quirks added lightheartedness to the plot. Finally, Sharples’s metaphor using the automotive term running lean is entwined brilliantly throughout the story. The metaphor adds depth and reinforces the theme that we must rely on God’s strength instead of our own. For all of these reasons I recommend Running Lean.