Running

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From the Publisher

natalia sylvester running

natalia sylvester running

A Conversation with Natalia Sylvester, author of RUNNING

What was your inspiration behind Running?

During the 2016 elections, I was watching the news one morning and caught coverage of a candidate giving a speech. Behind him, in the background, stood his teenage daughter. The more he spoke, the more I became intrigued by what must be going through her mind in the moment. Mari’s character came to me from that spark: she’s a teen who’s always been expected to very publicly support her father, but now that the spotlight has reached new heights in this national campaign for the presidency, she’s realizing she doesn’t agree with his policies. But she’s always stood by her father’s side quietly. What happens when you realize you have to speak up for what you believe in, even if it means going against those you love?

The role of the media and privacy is a big part of the book. Why do you think that’s an important topic for teens?

Social media is a powerful tool, and like any power, it can be used for good or bad.

Teens are experiencing all aspects of it at once, and I wanted to depict this in an honest way. What does it feel like to have your privacy invaded? To be expected to have a public persona that’s not a reflection of who you really are? To be cyber-bullied? You don’t have to be the daughter of a presidential candidate to know what that feels like.

It’s not easy for Mari to co-exist alongside the pressures and chaos of social media without getting lost in it. At the same time, social media ends up being central to how she and her friends organize a movement for change. I thought it was important to show these conflicting realities so teens know they’re not alone in their struggles with them.

running

running

Why did you choose to highlight climate change in the book? I grew up in Miami. My love of it has always been deeply tied to my community there and the environment. And the impact of climate change in South Florida is undeniable. It’s also deeply linked to how developers are pushing out communities—mostly communities of color—and harming our planet in the process. It felt natural that Mari would find her passion around environmental justice. It hits her close to home. It affects her friends and implicates her father, and she’s faced with the choice of what to do about it. That’s the thing about organizing for change—we can start at home. We can start small. If people’s lives can be affected by huge decisions in the smallest, everyday ways that are actually everything, then the inverse is also true. Small actions can become huge changes that help people in essential, everyday ways.

Who in Running do you most relate to?

I relate so much to Mari! I was Mari.

As a teen, nothing scared me more than using my voice. My palms used to sweat when I raised my hand in class. But I had so much I wanted to say. I constantly felt torn, my fear on one hand, and my convictions on the other. Add to this the fact that many Latinx women experience gendered expectations of silence from a very young age because we’re taught to not talk back or question our parents.

Mari’s struggles felt so completely familiar to me.

What do you hope readers take away from Running?

I hope they’ll feel as empowered and inspired by Mari’s story as I felt writing it. She helped me realize that even in moments when we feel powerless, when change feels nearly impossible and we’re full of fear, our voices, actions and choices are still a force.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Clarion Books (July 14, 2020)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0358124352
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0358124351
Reading age ‏ : ‎ 12 years and up
Grade level ‏ : ‎ 7 – 9
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 1.13 x 8.25 inches

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