Running Out of Lies

A Mystery

Young Adult - Mystery
287 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Running Out of Lies: A Mystery by Brian Beneventi brings us a coming-of-age story wrapped up in a five-year-old mystery. Shane’s father disappeared some five years ago, just not returning home one evening. Everyone, the police included, believed his father probably was having an affair and left the family of his own accord, never wanting to be found again. For twelve-year-old Shane, who had idolized his father, the “truth” was something he couldn’t accept and he’d always believed his father was still out there, possibly kidnapped, but definitely looking for a way to make contact with his son. Shane’s academics were nothing to be overly proud of, although he scraped by in high school along with his best friend Pher. When a new, mysterious teacher Mr. Thile begins at the school, he challenges Shane to be better than he was by going out for the cross-country team. Remembering his father’s love of cross-country as a teenager, Shane hatches a plan to get into the top ten at the State Championship and be highlighted on television. Surely his father would be watching this event? Shane is confident his father would make every effort to contact Shane once he saw Shane on TV. Battling the need to let go of his dream of reuniting with his father and moving on into adulthood, he struggles to deal with the reality of life.

This book struck a chord with me instantly. Shane, the main character, was a mixture of so many teenage males out there, full of angst, self-doubt and desperately seeking a male role model to guide them on that incredibly difficult journey through their teenage years. Running Out of Lies: A Mystery is an incredibly relaxing and easy book to read. Author Brian Beneventi has really tapped into the teenage male psyche and this is especially reflected in the relationships between Shane and Pher, plus between Shane and Lyla. What we often perceive as superficial and sarcastic frequently hides real pain and deep stress. The author brings this to the surface perfectly and the strained relationship between Shane and his mother is handled with real aplomb by the author. How often have we, as young adults (if we can remember back that far), felt our parents blamed us for events that were totally outside of our control? This book is about growing up and becoming a man but it is much more than that; it is about the many and varied relationships that we as human beings form and the people that touch our lives, sometimes just briefly, but change us forever. With an easy, conversational writing style, the author has brought us a book that is a joy to read and one I can highly recommend.

Lit Amri

Set in Portland, Oregon, Running Out of Lies by Brian Beneventi is about Shane Alderman, a high school senior having a strained relationship with his mother due to his father's disappearance years ago. The police refused to look into the evidence that he gave them, branding it as a cold case not worthy to be reopened. When an enigmatic teacher and assistant coach, Mr. Thile, cleverly got him to join the school's cross-country team, Shane forms a plan; be the best, get a place at the state cross-country, and be televised nationally to convince his father David-wherever he may be-to return home. He soon finds out that it's more than just running. It’s a journey of self-discovery.

The emotions of each character are well portrayed and resonate through the narrative. David Alderman's disappearance is intriguing and I had fun trying to piece together the clues that had been drip-fed throughout the story. As his father’s absence affected his attitude, Shane is not easy to root for. At times, I found him taking his best friend and his mother for granted. That said, Shane's mother, Ellane, also takes out her frustration unfairly on her son. The protagonist gradually comes out of his resentment and distrust and starts paying attention to people around him who have their own challenges that they have to deal with. His teacher, his love interest, his best friend, and running are vital anchors in his life. Beneventi’s Running Out of Lies easily evokes the memories of famous American runners such as Steve Prefontaine, Billy Mills, and Frank Shorter, as their names are mentioned in the story. Overall, it's about familial bonds, friendship, trust, love, change and self-growth-a substantial read for teens and young adults particularly ones who love and are involved in cross-country running.