I gave this book a rating of five out of five. The main character in Cros-Country Runner is Vern Mansfield, a high school junior. He is the best running back in the state, and is expected to get football scholarships to very prestigious football programs. However, in his senior year, he decides to quit football and join the cross-country team, because long-distance running is his true passion. Vern’s classmates make fun of him for joining the cross country team and are very angry at him for hurting their football team’s success. The most audacious of the taunting students is Ken Speaker. He is the best runner on the cross country team and is a self-serving sycophant. Ken tries to make Vern quit the cross-country team, because he thinks Vern deliberately hurt the football team and wants to do the same to the cross-country team. The only way Vern can earn the respect of the school is to become the best runner on the cross-country team.
I think this book is a very good literature choice because it very clearly demonstrates the way the football team and cross-country team are viewed in American society. I would recommend this book to cross-country runners, or anyone who looks down on them. Readers will know the torturous pain cross-country runners go through without receiving any respect. Also, students who find themselves against all odds may want to read this book to remind them that if they work hard and persevere, anything is possible.