Tuesday, November 25, 2014

REVIEW... Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon

Book Blurb (courtesy of Goodreads)
When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy crashes headlong into new-comer Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young friend behind. Many years go by and Samuel returns, finding Josie in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go. Deeply romantic and poignant, Running Barefoot is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind them to their homes and families, and the love that gives them wings.

Running Barefoot GOODREADS

This Book Nerd Says: 

Somehow this book went under my radar since I've come to read  some of Amy Harmon's books. I recently had my attention drawn to it upon mention that the main characters from this book would be making a cameo in one of my highly anticipated upcoming releases THE LAW OF MOSES. So I hurried over to one click it. 
That was probably the best one click decision I've made this weekend. I loved this book. Utterly and completely LOVED it. I have been a major fan of Harmon since I read MAKING FACES and I was almost certain that it would remain as my untouchable favorite of hers. Then I read Running Barefoot...
While I still hold Making Faces dear, Running Barefoot is a very close second favorite.
As the book blurb stated, the story is told in the perspective from Josie Jensen, a 13 yr old who doesn't fit in with anyone around her. She loves books and words almost as much as she loves music. She finds an unlikely but much needed companion in Samuel. Despite the age difference they find a common ground as they discuss and fall in love with literature and music, and their friendship becomes something almost sacred to Josie. She has an 'old soul' and teaches Samuel so much that he never expected to learn. 

When Samuel leaves their small town, he also leaves behind Josie. She keeps the memory of her dear friend tucked away as the letters from him dwindle to nothing. She moves on, grows up, finds love and loss yet again. Her plans for the future return to being dreams that drift further from Josie's reality. 

Then when she least expects it - but needs it most, Samuel returns and with his arrival comes the resurgence of their undeniable bond. Samuel is determined to reconnect Josie to the things that gave her life purpose confused as to why she has distanced herself from those things now. 

"I didn't want to deal with old feelings that brought fresh pain. i was through loving people who would only leave." 

Now a big reason why I probably (kinda sorta definitely) loved this book is because Harmon once again interweaves some of MY favorite literary loves into this story. Seriously, at the mention of Anne of Green Gables becoming Josie's best friend, I knew then that she was my newest book bff. It was confirmed again and again as she had intense discussions about Othello, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre. The final book friendship validation was her reference to watching Seven Brides For Seven Brothers countless times...
If I didn't know better I would think that Josie Jensen is me. 
My love of Josie's character is undeniable but there is no love lost on Samuel either. Samuel's character growth from beginning to end is beautiful. The acceptance that Samuel was in search of, is evident in his return. The way he had with words was incredible. The way he loved Josie was the stuff LOVE is made of. 
"You're not the girl I love best, Josie.
                       You're the only girl I've ever loved. "

I know I had a major soft spot for Samuel but even setting that aside, I knew that no one else could be the kindred spirit that Josie's soul needed for a true happily ever after. I was so happy that her father actually put into the book's dialogue everything that I was thinking and feeling. Josie and Samuel gave each other something that no one else could give them despite the best of intentions. 
"What does Samuel do when you talk to him, Josie? What does he say? Does he hear you, the way none of us can?... I don't want you holdin' back all your life, sharing yourself in doses that people will accept. If Samuel is man enough to take it all, every last drop... then i hope you know where Samuel is... " 

This is a phenomenal story from start to finish. It's such a unique premise that doesn't disappoint. A love story full of friendship, loss, culture, and spirituality. I have so many things highlighted in the book, so many beautiful quotes and things I loved that couldn't share it all, so I'm going to give this 4.5 stars. 
I hope that you'll not only read it but you'll fall under the spell of this love story. 

Running Barefoot AMAZON

Running Barefoot B&N.com (paperback only)

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