By Author / Illustrator
Cranachan Publishing Limited
Paperback / softback
Get ready for the race of your life...
This is what it feels like when I'm running. When I'm running fast, I feel free.
12-year-old Lili is determined to defeat her arch rival in front of the Queen during her school's anniversary celebrations. Adopted from China as a baby, Lili also has personal challenges to overcome, but when her training is thrown into chaos by events outside her control, she realises that she must choose between family and the race of her life.
Meanwhile in 1944, Eric Liddell, hero of the 1924 Olympics, finds himself in a war zone. Separated from his family, he is getting ready to run his final race in a prison camp in China when his lifelong principles are challenged by the imprisoned children he is trying to help...
Born in China, Lili was adopted when 18 months by her English father and Scottish mother. Together with her little sister, Alice, who they adopted from Kazakhstan, her gran says they are a real League of Nations, leading them to support many different countries in the Olympics.
Lili loves to run which enables her to forget all worries, including Tom, a boy at school who often makes derogatory comments about China, one of which leads to Lili finding out about Eric Liddell and China's first gold medal. When their head teacher announces that the Queen will be coming to their sports' day, Tom is determined to beat Lili at her favourite event. However, events outside Lili's control mean that she must choose between her family and competing.
Lili's story is interspersed with that of Olympic hero, Eric Liddell, who in 1944 finds himself caught in a war zone. Separated from his family and interred in a prison camp in China, his principles are once again challenged as he tries to support children imprisoned alongside him.
The Race successfully combines Lili's fictional story with Eric's real one in a thought provoking, engaging read. Whilst it tackles serious issues including racism, religious beliefs and sexism in sport, the story also bursts with the courage and commitment of two very different individuals determined to be the best they can be, who are faced with making tough decisions.
I'm ashamed to admit that, like many, my knowledge of Eric Liddell was limited to having watched Chariots of Fire and The Race offers a much needed acknowledgement of the man beyond the Olympic medal and an excellent starting point for those who wish to learn more. The strength of his beliefs and compassion for others are inspirational. Lili is a wonderful character. The importance of family is central to the story and The Race celebrates a diverse adoptive family which is warm and supportive. Gran is great, offering sound advice, but listening carefully to Lili's worries. The way she deals with Tom shows great strength of character. The Race is a very engaging, compelling story.
168 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+