Running As Fast As I Can

Fiction - Drama
466 Pages
Reviewed on 12/18/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

JOHN DAVID GRAHAM is the founder and executive director of Good Samaritan Home, a non-profit social service agency in Ohio, offering ex-offenders reentry housing and mentoring support. He is the author of an academic book, Citizen Circle: A Mentoring Model for Rehabilitating Ex-offenders in Darke County, Ohio, that documents the positive impact that mentoring ex-offenders has on the community.
Graham's journey to becoming an author is as unique as the story he tells. At the age of 75, Graham has recently ventured into the world of TikTok, to bring an important message to a new generation. Prior to that he was a door-to-door salesman, a children’s home counselor, substitute school teacher, truck driver, fireman, building contractor, minister and a journalist. Sometimes the road home takes many twists and turns.
That long and winding road is the best preparation for writing. John’s philosophy is the best writing occurs after a life has actually been lived—when we have had time to develop calloused hands and a tender heart.
His current novel, although fiction, is the very real story of too many of us who struggle to overcome generations of poverty, neglect or abuse that have left us totally incapable of the life, and love, we desperately want. It is everyone’s story because we all deserve a second chance.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite

All Daniel Robinson ever wanted was a normal loving family. To escape an abusive father and mentally ill mother, he leaves home at sixteen to seek refuge with a pastor. But a man he believed would protect him — a man he should have been able to trust implicitly and depend on — sexually assaults him. From thereon, his life takes many twists and turns as he struggles to find his place in the world, facing repeated challenges and betrayals and becoming increasingly disillusioned with the church and the authority figures he looks to for help and protection. While benefiting from the wisdom and caring guidance of a few good people he meets along the way, he also learns a great deal from troubled folk to whom he extends the hand of friendship. Eventually, he finds his soulmate in Kate Fitzgerald. Together, they build the family he always wanted. But can he ever outrun the demons that haunt him?

Running As Fast As I Can is a genuine page-turner. A good writer makes you either laugh or cry. John David Graham did both. Daniel’s story had me struggling at times to read through my tears. Graham is a truly great author, in my view, because long after putting the book aside, the characters still live with you. Graham takes you into their world to walk in their shoes, to feel what they feel, to think what they think, and to know what they know. You learn with them. You love with them. You cry with them. And in the end, you draw on the experiences you share with them to shape your view of the world. This book shines a light in dark corners. The author does not hold back in his judgment of human behavior and a society shaped by prejudices. But he reminds us that life is written in pencil so that we can erase a mistake and start over. As we join Daniel on his journey, I suspect most of us will reflect on the times we needed to erase a chapter and rewrite it. We ponder the race we are running; our own search for love, for a place to belong in the world, and for a way to light the path for those who struggle in a dark place. Running As Fast As I Can is told with deep compassion and understanding. It’s a story of love and forgiveness. Intensely emotional, it is also timely and relevant, highlighting social issues our society still struggles with today. It is, in my opinion, truly a masterpiece.

K.C. Finn

Running As Fast As I Can is a work of fiction in the recent historical, interpersonal drama, and sociocultural writing subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers owing to the presence of graphic violence, sexual content, strong language, and other adult themes throughout. Penned by author John David Graham, the work is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately redemptive novel that delves into the tumultuous journey of Daniel Robinson, a young man who grew up in the grim mill slums surrounding Pittsburgh. The story opens with Daniel's desperate escape from his abusive home, with an alcoholic father and a mother who retreated into prayer, neglecting her son's suffering. This traumatic upbringing propels Daniel into a decade-long odyssey through the volatile 1960s, marked by encounters with the hippie drug culture, racial violence, and anti-war protests. Amid this chaos, Daniel discovers love and hope through Kate Fitzgerald, and together they embark on a path to healing and rebuilding a life marked by love rather than pain.

Author John David Graham has crafted a highly emotive and immersive novel that deftly explores themes of family, redemption, and the long-lasting effects of trauma. The book masterfully captures the historical and social backdrop of the era, offering a compelling insight into the challenges of the time whilst also bringing the vibrance, attitude, and dark complexities of the 1960s into living color with some fantastic descriptive and dialogue work. What distinguishes this book is its ability to seamlessly intertwine Daniel's personal journey with broader social issues, making it both an emotional and thought-provoking read. It serves as a poignant reminder of the injustices and struggles that people faced during this period and the enduring impact of trauma. Overall, Running As Fast As I Can is a narrative that captivates and profoundly resonates with readers, presenting a compelling tale of love and forgiveness that I would not hesitate to recommend to one and all.

Viga Boland

From the moment I met 12-year-old Daniel in Running As Fast As I Can by John David Graham, my heart went out to him. How well I could relate to his joy in saving his pennies to buy and build a model airplane, only to have his young spirit crushed by his alcoholic father. From that point on, throughout adolescence and into early adulthood, throughout his eagerness to succeed in both love and career and his disappointments in both, Daniel needed constant reminders that he was writing his life in pencil and could always start over again. It’s a chance that many of us deny ourselves if it weren’t for the many good people who help us along the way. So it is with Daniel’s journey to discover who he really is and what he’s truly capable of. His search for self takes him on some wild rides with some unusual characters. We laugh and cry with him, but each and every one of them teaches him more about life and himself than any education ever could. It reminded me of my own experiences as a new teacher: I learned more from my students in my first year of teaching than I ever did in teachers’ college!

Running As Fast As I Can by John David Graham is one of the most beautiful stories ever told, one whose message was repeated several times throughout the novel, and whose importance I will never forget i.e. that “…life is written in pencil; we get lots of second chances.” Don’t believe that? Read what happens to Daniel Robinson and you might just change your mind and think a lot more deeply about your own life. I did, and, like Daniel, I realized that even though what some people had done to me could never be erased, it was always up to me to write the next chapter. The author tells us he began writing this story 50 years ago. I’d be willing to bet that though this novel is fiction, there’s a lot of reality in the protagonist’s experiences and encounters. Apart from a natural ability for story-telling, the author writes with such sensitivity that readers feel every one of Daniel’s emotions. It’s actually quite amazing how a rather long coming-of-age story could be so compelling that it’s almost impossible to put the book down. This was an engrossing and unforgettable read. Thank you John David Graham for writing Running As Fast As I Can. This particular journey belonged to Daniel Robinson but his story belongs to each of us.