Review: Race Across the Sky by Derek Sherman

Posted August 19, 2013 by in Book Reviews / 21 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher / TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Race Across the Sky by Derek ShermanRace Across the Sky by Derek Sherman
Published by Plume on July 30, 2013
Genres: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Source: the publisher / TLC Book Tours

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The back cover of Race Across the Sky asks, “Who would you run one hundred miles for?”

My answer?


Let’s be realistic here: I’d never make it. I probably couldn’t even run two miles without hurting myself and/or passing out at this point in my life, and that’s not going to help anybody. I can think of a lot of things I would do and sacrifice for the people I love, but running one hundred miles is not any of those things. I can even think of circumstances in which I would give my life for someone I love. Those imaginary circumstances involve a relatively quick death, though, not the slow torture of running one hundred miles, which again would be physically impossible. But I digress.

In Race Across the Sky, Caleb is an ultra marathoner. He runs anywhere between fifty to one hundred miles at a time, depending on the marathon. A normal day of training involves eight hours of running. He belongs to what I would describe as an ultra-marathoning cult called Happy Trails, situated in the middle of nowhere outside Boulder, Colorado.

His brother, Shane, works for a biotechnology company in San Francisco, California. Shane and his parents haven’t been in contact with Caleb since he left his job as a financial analyst in New York City to join Happy Trails. But Caleb has fallen in love with another member of Happy Trails (contrary to the rules) whose infant daughter was born with a rare genetic disease which has no known cure. Caleb decides to break his years-long silence with his family in order to contact Shane and ask for help.

Race Across the Sky is a book about what lengths people will go to in order to help or save the people they love. It’s about morals, ethics, determination, and the bonds shared between family members and people who love each other.

Because I’m a wuss, the ultra marathoning parts of Race Across the Sky really disturbed me, then became kind of “meh.” I mean, I was fascinated by what those runners put themselves through and why they do it, but the fascination quickly wore off and I found myself paying less attention to the parts of the story about running (mostly in order to preserve a minimum comfort level). Learning about what this level of running does to one’s body is interesting, but the wuss in me just couldn’t handle reading about it over and over and over.

But the biotechnology and genetic engineering parts are awesome, because SCIENCE. Shane’s part of the story is the best part and that–in addition to parts of the overall plot–is what kept me reading. There is also a lot written about drug companies and what their real motivator is (hint: cha-CHING). I already knew this, for the most part, but there were some real eye-opening things said that I guess I hadn’t thought about before.

Race Across the Sky is definitely a page-turner; I read the whole thing in less than twenty-four hours. The writing is good and the overall plot is quite suspenseful. I’d recommend it to runners, people interested in learning about ultra marathoning, and people interested in biotechnology and genetic engineering. This is Derek Sherman’s debut novel, and I’d definitely be interested in reading any novels he might write in the future.

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  • sj

    I found myself cackling at your response to the question posed in the blurb.

    • I laughed out loud when I read that on the back cover. I thought, ‘One hundred miles?! What?! Are you crazy?!’ Heh.

  • I find people that run marathons disturbing, so ultra marathons…um, no. That can’t be good for the body. Surely there are better ways to help someone than by hurting yourself?

    • Yeah, and no spoilers, but “hurting yourself” is an understatement.

      I can see people training and running 5k or 10k races, even though it’s not my thing…but the ultra marathons in this book make the Iron Man race look like a walk in the park.

  • Because of that first question, the whole time I was reading your review I was silently singing, “And I would walk five hundred miles and I would walk five hundred more,” in the back of my head.

    • Hahaha! I love it. My mind does the same thing to me with music.

  • Ha ha ha! NOBODY. I hear you sister! I’ve always said that the only way I would run on purpose is if there was a monster chasing me 😉

    But I would read this book. I won’t be RUNNING anywhere to get it though, ha ha, get it?? 😉

    • I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I love my family and friends, but I also love myself. Haha!

  • This sounds real interesting. And I don’t think I will even jog one kilometer for anybody 🙂

    • Hee! I’m honestly not sure I could even jog two miles at this point. You’re right.

  • Hilarious:D I’m not a big fan of running myself. Have you ever read Born To Run by Christopher McDougall? It’s a non-fiction book about extreme marathon runners. I was impressed for sure.

    • I haven’t, but I will look into it at some point. Thanks!

  • I’m not a runner either, but it does sound like you connected to at least some parts of this story. And it does sounds like a good one. But I have a question. Why is becoming involved with someone in Happy Trails against the rules? It’s a club. You can’t date within the club? Why not?

    • I guess you’d have to read the book to find out. Hahaha!

      It’s not just a club…it’s like a cult, almost. Running is THE ONLY THING. Anything else is a distraction. So mostly no contact with the outside world, no romantic relationships, etc. That’s all I’m going to say, because SPOILERS.

  • Because, SCIENCE! yes. love it.
    I once said I would gladly shave my head for a friend and other people were aghast. But yea, not sure I am built to be a runner.

    • I would definitely shave my head for a friend, too.

  • I’m with SJ. I guffawed when I read that too. You are too funny. I would have to agree with you. I don’t think I could read those running parts either because of my extreme wussiness. It does sound good though. I think I would like the science part.

    Great review! Here I am again learning about a book I had never heard of. 🙂

  • Pingback: Derek Sherman, author of Race Across the Sky, on tour August 2013 | TLC Book Tours()

  • I’m definitely NOT a runner and I can’t imagine ever wanting to do this but I certainly have respect for anyone who does (even though I think they may be slightly crazy …).

    Thanks for being on the tour! I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  • We just finished this with our book group. A+. It doesnt matter of you run or not. You dont have to be a lawyer to love John Grisham books. This is a keeper and I want to pass it along. Perfect for labor day vacation reading.

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