** spoiler alert **
This novel is the coming of age story of 17-year old Louie Banks, a football star at the height of his high school career. At the start of his senior year he has everything going for him: this is bound to be the best football season yet, things are going great with his best friend Carter, he loves his parents, and he's dating the most popular girl in school. However, things take a turn when Louie's coach tells him to take out the star black athlete of the opposing team. Louie refuses to continue playing with a coach who clearly has no morals or sportsmanship. As a result, Louie is forced to deal with criticism from his peers and a tragedy that changes his life.
Overall, I found the plot of Running Loose kind of bland and disappointing. The first few sentences got me excited to read about what crazy things this boy was going to experience to get him to the desperate state he’s in, but not much happened until the end. Come to think of it, it might not even be the plot that I have an issue with, but rather the way the story is written. Crutcher throws things at you out of nowhere, giving you no time to prepare or even be affected by anything. Maybe I’m heartless, but I didn’t find myself involved enough with any of the characters to really care what was going on. I think Crutcher tells a great story in Running Loose, proving that what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, but I wanted more. At the end Louie talks a little bit about how he has grown from Becky’s death, but it all happened so fast that I didn’t really believe it. The book was short enough that more detail and excitement could have been included without risking losing the focus of young adult readers.