Nathan Burgoine's Reviews > The Front Runner

The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren
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's review
Apr 22, 12

bookshelves: glbt
Read in May, 2008

A smarter man than I might have noticed the word "Tragic" on the back cover of this book. That's all I'll say about how it was that I ended up blubbering in the midst of the Atlanta airport last week on my way to New Orleans.

This book was phenomenal. That it has just had its 20th anniversary makes it all the more stunning to me for its ability to hold up over time, as so many books struggle to do. Set in the year leading up to the Montreal Olympics, we follow the life of an ex-marine Coach who begins very much in the closet, and who falls in love with a gay runner left in his charge.

Warren's characterizations are fantastic - you can feel these people, their emotionality has an absolutely realistic pulse, and the love story at the core of the novel left me aching. The historical content was spot-on; her treatment of what gays and lesbians of the period went through was frighteningly accurate, and at the same time quite a positive reinforcement of many the things we have accomplished. This book is a glimpse at the social rights movement that brought us this far, as well as the lives of two gay men written so well that you really will breathe with them.

But, like I said, perhaps not something to read on vacation in an airport. Or at least, pack a hankerchief. You'll be glad you did.
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