Racing the Rain
John L. Parker Jr. Scribner
John L. Parker Jr.’s Racing the Rain is the prequel to the beloved running novel, Once A Runner, which chronicled the adolescence of fictional collegiate star Quenton Cassidy.
Racing the Rain comes nearly 40 years after Once A Runner, and the author is writing it from the vantage point of a man in his late 60s. I was curious to see how he treated the pre-teen Quenton Cassidy.
Cassidy is less of an egomaniac than his older self. Parker deserves credit for accurately depicting a situation that plays out in almost every distance runner’s life – their first sporting love and the transition from that, to running.
Rarely does a child jump into running as their primary sport. In Quenton Cassidy’s case, basketball is the sport that he desperately loves and is, in fact, the sport that’s featured in the majority of the novel.
Readers don’t have to know much about basketball to follow along. Parker deserves credit for his ability to capture the sensation of running and racing, and taking readers onto the court. The running comes later in the novel. While, unlike in Once a Runner, there is no chapter dedicated solely to a ridiculous 60 x 400 m workout, there is plenty to unlock former high-school track and cross-country runners’ memories of suffering. Parker’s humour, woven throughout the novel, occasionally hits that perfectly charming note, such as Quenton’s first-ever cross-country practice: “Cassidy had never seen so many skinny guys in one place in his life.”–