Monday, January 30, 2012


Series Book 1 in the Full Throttle series (Book 2 Getting Sideways is released)
Summary via Goodreads
Cody Everett has a temper as hot as the flashpoint of racing fuel, and it's landed him at his uncle's trailer, a last-chance home before military school. But how can he take the guy seriously when he calls himself Race, eats Twinkies for breakfast, and pals around with rednecks who drive in circles every Saturday night?

What Cody doesn't expect is for the arrangement to work. Or for Race to become the friend and mentor he's been looking for all his life. But just as Cody begins to settle in and get a handle on his supercharged temper, a crisis sends his life spinning out of control. Everything he's come to care about is threatened, and he has to choose between falling back on his old, familiar anger or stepping up to prove his loyalty to the only person he's ever dared to trust.

My Review:  5/5
My first thought when I finished this book was, "Whoa!  Lisa Nowak can WRITE!"

One might think, from the the cover of this book, that it's about racing.  Although there's racing in it, it's SOOO not about that.  It's about relationships, acceptance and overcoming adversity.  It's told from the point of view of a 15 yr. old troubled kid named Cody.

This story takes place in Oregon in the 80's.  Cody is sent to live with his uncle, who goes by Race, when he gets busted for vandalizing a zoo wall.  His choice is either live with an uncle he hardly knows or go to military school.  Who would choose military school?  No one.

What's Cody's story, why is he troubled?  To say Cody's family life is messed up, would be an understatement.  His mom, Saundra, is so self absorbed that she is completely out of touch with who Cody is and what he needs from her.  She's recently walked out on him and his dad to pursue her dream of becoming a bartender.  But, realistically she checked out of the mother role years ago.   His dad is spineless and has never stood up for him.  Both parents are pretty much useless.  It's easy to see why Cody is lashing out, feeling angry, abandoned and full of resentment.  His belief that ALL adults will eventually let you down, given enough time, is challenged when Race turns out to be the person to teach Cody the true meaning of family.

This book is a good example of why I love to read, the story touched my heart.  The characters were so well written, I became easily invested in them.  I identified with Cody the most, having been an angry teen at one point myself.   I felt like he was teenage me, but with a Y chromosome.  I was touched by his journey to self-control and self worth, love being the catalyst, as in any good story.  It was satisfying to witness his transformation as he was finally accepted for who he was and encouraged to embrace his talents, surrounded by people who genuinely loved him.

But, Cody isn't the only one who is changed by circumstances.  Unconditional love, acceptance and learning that who you were isn't who you always need to be, is the shared lesson.  I enjoyed watching the relationships between Cody, Race and Kasey blossom.  It's a beautiful example of how the distinction between family and friends can often blur.

One of the surprising things to me was how the author describes things in such a way that anyone can enjoy the thrill of what's going on on the race track or learn to appreciate all the work that goes into preparing a car for such a thing.  At the end of this book you might find yourself giving NASCAR a chance next time it's on, if you haven't already.

In case you hadn't guessed, I highly recommend this book, because you don't have to know what's it's like to be an angry teenage boy or know a SINGLE THING about stock car racing to get something out of it, you just need a pulse.

You can purchase RUNNING WIDE OPEN at Smashwords (in any format you need), Amazon and Barnes and Noble for 0.99!  See links below!

Buy links:


  1. Thanks for the review, Arla. I'm glad you liked the book. Everyone is always surprised to learn that it's not really about racing. :)

    1. You're welcome, it was fun to read. I tried to make a point of letting people know it wasn't about cars. I hope this book gets the attention it deserves.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I appreciate you stopping by and reading it.

  3. What a great review, Arla! I loved your perspective--I learned things about this book I did not know!

    1. Thank you, Ali! Started your book today, I was sucked right in.

  4. A great review! I never thought a book featuring a teen age boy set against a race car background could be so entrancing. I was more than ready for the sequel, Getting Sideways. The authenticity that Nowak brings to the world of racing is seamlessly integrated into the drama of Cody's introduction into a new family constellation and a new way of life. A marvelous read for any age.

    1. Thank you. And I completely agree. I can hardly wait to dive into Getting Sideways.

  5. Excellent review. I agree that you don't have to be a fifteen year old boy interested in cars to enjoy this book. I'm a 70 yr old granny who knew nothing about racing. I found the compelling characters and realistic challenges transcended the background for a gripping story. And I learned a little about racing. I've also read Getting sideways, and think it is even better.
    Can't wait for the next one.

    1. Thanks, Beth. I can hardly wait for the next one too.