The Parkour Club is a rollicking good read! Bronte’s journey to find her place in the world in the midst of change encompasses her love of and skill at parkour, the emotional roller-coaster of adolescent family life, school negotiations and romance happen in the context of a cross-cultural thriller story. When a Yemeni boy comes to her school after losing his family. Bronte takes him as her friend and helps him find his way. Their growing relationship (he, too is adept at parkour) provide focus to Bronte’s seeking to understand her own identity. The inner voice of her character is vivid, authentic and sympathetic. She is so likable, without being too good to be true.
The context of the story is in the experiences of Yemeni refugees and immigrants making their way in a culture which often suspects them. The questions of radicalization and recruitment by manipulative terrorists provide the driver for the mystery of the book as it unfolds. Bronte’s orientation as a person who values those whom some of her peers view as ‘other’ places her in the middle of a conflict that is being lived out in towns and cities all over the West as people try to live together in the presence of those who are different, to create a common civic life in which each person can thrive.
I was particularly impressed at the presentation of Bronte’s spiritual quest. She wants to understand Islam because it is important to her friends, and finds herself caught up in the kindness she finds in its leaders and adherents. Her spiritual searching echoes the quest of many young adults, and it is treated respectfully and seriously. As a spiritual leader who has had my own share of conversations with searching teens, I was glad Bronte’s questions were met with such care. And: I loved the descriptions of parkour! The discipline, joy and courage of the young practitioners is a kind of spiritual endeavor all its own. I highly recommend this book—for teens and young adults, as well as for anyone who just wants to be caught up in a good story for a few hours.