Brand new in paperback, Mark Slouka’s novel has a grit and depth that lasts long after its final word. The plot seems deceptively simple: It is a tale of two friends in 1968, coming of age in a working-class town; one is a runner, the other a fighter. Yet there is an undertow to Slouka’s narrative that evolves as we get to know the main characters, Jon and Ray, and the loyalty and desperation that forms between these two in the wake of their flawed fathers and distant mothers. This book breathes life. You cannot help but love these boys and get caught up in their quest. This novel is for the reader who knows that the miracle lies in the footfall, that it is the finish line that is the wonder, instead of the win. A beautiful and piercing read.