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Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon

When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy, crashes headlong into new kid Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music, and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young mentor behind. Many years go by, and Samuel returns to find his old friend in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go.

Deeply romantic and poignant, 'Running Barefoot' is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind us to our homes and families, and the love that gives us wings.

4.5-4.75 Stars

“True love sufferth long, and is kind; true love envieth not. True love vounteth not itself, is not puffed up. True love does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. True love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth. True love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endoureth all things.” ~ 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13 

Tell me that is not one of the most beautiful things ever. I’m completely blown away by this story. I cannot begin to describe the emotions that ran through me while I read this. If that opening line above didn’t tell you, I’ll tell you right now: This is aVERY deep, emotional love story. The story contained several spiritual and religious components, and along with the music, it wove a beautiful story.

“You always had this light that made you seem like royalty…such an incredible mind, such beauty and humility. You took my breath away, time after time, day after day, on that smelly old school bus.” 

Josie and Samuel first met when she was only thirteen and he eighteen: She in seventh grade, he a high school senior. They rode the same bus to school every day and was assigned to sit next to each other. Josie, though young in age, has been through a lot in life. She lost her mother very early in her life and took it upon herself to take care of her father, and three older brothers. She is wise beyond her years, tall, pretty and easily intimidates a lot of the boys in her school. She’s also a very accomplished piano player and avid reader. She is not your typical thirteen-year-old girl. Josie grew up fast. 

When she meets Samuel, he was one very angry boy. Samuel is half Navajo Indian and half Caucasian. He lost his father early in life and lived with his mother on the reservation before finally moving in with his grandparents. The feeling of not belonging has always plagued Samuel. His half/half heritage has always made him a target at school and at the reservation. He hardly talks to anyone, but the girl sitting next to him slowly melts his icy reserve. 

During their bus ride is where hey talked of books, music, and religion. The friendship between Josie and Samuel became very strong. However, no one really knew the extent of it. It was kept mostly between themselves because honestly, how would it look? Once Samuel graduated, he joined the Marines. It broke Josie’s heart, as well as mine, when he went away. At first, they constantly wrote each other and kept in touch. Two years after, Samuel returned home to visit, but he and Josie had a falling out of sorts. Josie and he moved on as best they could. 

“You were so young, and the feelings between us were too intense. I found myself thinking about you like you were my girl. Then I would remember how young you were, and I would be ashamed of myself.”

“You see, in my mind, I always kept track. I would mark time with your birthdays. Josie is sixteen – but I’m 21. Josie is 17, still too young.” 

Josie is twenty-three when twenty-eight year old Samuel returns. Josie has been through a lot during his absence. She has lost another person she loves and dreams of becoming a famous pianist were put on the backburner as she cared for her father. Samuel is currently on leave and is there to help his aging grandparents. When he first encounters Josie, he notices her bright spirit has diminished into something sad. Their friendship soon rekindles, but is friendship really what they want? 

“I did my best to be a man you could be proud of.” 
“You were the bar I measured everything by.” ~ Samuel 

The story was not rushed. The relationship that blossomed between the Josie and Samuel took a natural progression that involved a lot of deep conversations. If you’re an impatient person, this is probably not the book for you. I do have to warn you though, it did feel a little overwhelming at times, but not enough to bother me. I was not easily deterred. I was too engrossed with Samuel and Josie’s relationship to keep me going. The fact that there was no of steam whatsoever didn’t even bother me; I loved them both too much too care the lack of. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a beautiful and emotional love story. 

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