Title: Going the Distance
Author: John Goode
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Looking like the perfect all-American boy—tall, handsome, and athletic—makes it easy for Danny Monroe to blend in with the in-crowd of a new high school. It’s a trick he picked up moving with his father from one Marine base to the next. When you aren’t going to be around long, it’s better to give people what they want. And what they want are his quick hands and fast feet on the basketball court.
On court, he can be himself and ignore certain strange developing urges. Everyone knows you can’t like boys and be a jock, but for Danny his growing attraction is becoming overwhelming. At the thought of losing the only thing that matters, Danny starts to panic and realizes he has a choice to make: happiness or basketball.
Review: You know when a book is just so good, so right, that when you sit down to write your review all you really want to say is, “Look, go buy this book, ‘cause everything about it just clicks and you’re going to race through it, biting your nails and pulling out your hair and by the end, you are going to wish you knew where the author lived so you could go camp out at his house till he writes the next one in the series.” Yeah. Well, John Goode’s Going The Distance is that book, and darned if I have any idea how to review it for you without gushing like a girl over her first teenage crush.
Danny. Oh golly, there were times when I wanted to wrap this boy up in a fierce hug and then slap him upside the head. Seriously, he was that frustrating. Naïve, motherless by age five and raised by a young marine dad who was clueless and mourning his dead wife, Danny grows into a young man over the course of this novel, and his story leaves you in a shambles by the end. He is so lost, and the only place that keeps him grounded is on the basketball court. Ironically, a place his father guided him to with the ultimatum to get himself together or be shipped home to hated relatives.
You see, at the tender age of eleven, Danny had his first crush on a boy and when he was caught in bed with that boy, fumbling about, Danny’s father believed the other boy’s father when he told him that Danny had made a move on his son while the boy was asleep. Of course, that was far from the truth, but it set in motion a horrible wave of guilt and fear that Danny would live with for the rest of his young life. He could not be gay—no way, no how. Couldn’t be…but, of course, he was.
And so the rest of this novel is one painful moment after another, watching a young man grapple with biblical condemnation, lack of social skills, and a deep seated hatred of who he is and the determination to be someone else. Straight, “normal”, just another guy on the court, any of those would do for him. If only it could be that simple.
I will admit to being a John Goode fan. This author is on my auto-buy list and frankly, deserves to be there—he is just that talented a writer. But there is something more here, something uniquely, well, John Goode, and it is this. This author steps into the minds and hearts of teen boys like no other YA author I have ever read. You can feel him breathing life into each character he places in a book. His pacing, the pathos and the incredibly realistic feel to each of his novels places him in the standing of one of the most gifted young adult writers in the m/m genre.
Danny, Nate, Sam, Cory, these boys are not some carbon copy wannabes in a happy go lucky coming-of-age novel. No, not by a long shot. Nor are they the angsty, angry, near buffoonish type bad boys of teen literature. In fact, what they are is incredibly realistic creations of a keen and witty mind that allows us to see just a glimpse of what it is really like to grow up knowing you are different—knowing you won’t ever be what the world likes to call “normal”. John Goode creates people and wraps a story around them that is so beautifully written, so palpably painful and yet so hopeful that you cannot help but be in awe of the book he has written for you.
I wish my review could give you some small idea of how gifted this author is—give you just a glimpse at how much you are going to love meeting Danny. But, alas, I am just a reviewer with few and simple words. Go buy this book. Read Going The Distance. You will be so glad you did—so delighted by this story, and I believe you, too, will find an author to add to your auto-buy list.
You can buy Going the Distance here: