Race Across the Sky: A Novel by Derek Sherman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Who would you run one hundred miles for?
Caleb Oberest is an ultramarathon runner, who severed all ties to his family to race brutal 100-mile marathons across mountains. Shane Oberest is a sales rep for a cutting-edge biotechnology firm, creating new cures for the diseases of our time. Shane has spent his life longing to connect with his older brother, but the distance between them was always too vast.
Caleb’s running group live by strict rules, but Caleb is breaking one of them. He has fallen in love with a new member and her infant daughter. When Caleb discovers that the baby has a fatal genetic disease, he reaches out to Shane. On the verge of becoming a father himself, Shane devises a plan that could save this baby and bring his lost brother home. But to succeed, both brothers will need to risk everything they have. And so each begins a dangerous race that will push them past their boundaries, and take all of Caleb’s legendry endurance to survive.
Derek Sherman’s authentic, compelling story of ultramarathons, biotechnology, and family takes us deep into new worlds and examines how far we will go for the people we love.
My thoughts: I was first introduced to the world of ultra marathoners by a colleague who coaxed me into reading Born to Run which fascinated me yet, by no means did it inspire me to go run up and down a couple of mountain ranges. Or around the block. Still, that kind of dedication and mindset is intriguing.
This book is a fictional novel based on the lifestyle of ultramarathoners. These are people who run events of 100 miles or more at a time. They push their bodies past the point of physical pain, past the point that their kidneys shut down and yet they continue to run. They are generally a disciplined population of runners who find a higher level of living when in training. And they are always in training. This fictional group is a running club called "Happy Trails," coached and directed by a man named Mack. They live cult-like and much like a commune. Somewhat off the grid, and generally living as equals. Of course, Mack is the exception and just a little bit of a narcissist. Like a lot.
Meanwhile, back in the Bay area, brother Shane is changing career tracks from pharmaceutical sales to biotechnology. This is where the brothers intersect as Caleb, the runner in the commune seeks out Shane's expertise. It was just a little bit too convenient that Shane chooses to move into biotech.
So I guess I'll share what gives it three stars instead of four. The general story of Caleb and Shane did not engage me. I felt ambivalent about the brothers, June, and most of the characters on the whole. Except Lilly. I did care about her.
Yet the story is a vehicle to providing interesting and relevant information about the world of pharmaceuticals and sales. How the drug reps are pushing doctors hard to prescribe meds that may or may not work but investors need to see a return. There's a huge cushion for paying big bonuses to reps and doctors. Which makes me wary, how about you?
On the other side of the same coin are biotech companies that work with the proteins within our own bodies to heal itself by injecting a genetically altered protein that corrects the faulty genes. Not to cure but to control so the sufferer can live with the ailment without all the side effects from the ailment and/or the chemicals in meds. On the other hand, they still work under the rules of the FDA and must adhere to the rules and testing of each trial which is both necessary, ethical, and hugely expensive. Which comes into play in this novel.
The author is very well read on the issues of pharma and biotech. He is also convincing in the arena of why someone would choose to leave the rat race to become an ultra marathon runner. The adjectives used paints an intriguing picture of kinetic energy and feelings of peace in nature. Not that I'm convinced to do it, but I can see the allure.
Great information. Interesting story line that just didn't quite hook me. I'd still recommend it to people for information.