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Literature / Running With Lions

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Running with Lions is a 2018 Young Adult Queer Romance novel by Julian Winters. This novel is his debut novel.

Sebastian Hughes, Bloomington High School Lions' goalie, is about to start his senior year in high school but he's more scared than excited - he has no idea what his future looks like after high school, he still has unresolved body image issues, and his girlfriend left him. Also, he's starting to realize that he also likes boys. Thankfully, his coach makes it clear that the team is welcoming to all, no matter what their sexuality is. But during summer training camp, Sebastian finds it hard to be himself, especially that his former childhood friend Emir Shah joined the team and is acting frosty towards everyone, Sebastian in particular. Throughout the summer, Sebastian works hard to get Emir to open up to the team, as well as deal with his own attraction to Emir. During late-night practices and early morning runs, Sebastian and Emir get closer to each other as their connection goes beyond just teammates.


Tropes in the book include

  • Beta Couple: Willie and Hunter, and then later Mason and Grey serve this role for the main couple, Sebastian and Emir.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Willie, whose knee is completely shot and he later gives up soccer but still wants to support the team.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Sebastian is bisexual, his friends Mason and Willie are bi and gay respectively. Teammates Emir (Sebastian's Love Interest) and Hunter are also gay. Justified in that their coach, Coach Patrick has let it known that the team is open for LGBT players. Assistant coach Rivera is also gay and has a husband.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: What Sebastian and Emir eventually develop into.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The story is about Sebastian getting over his anxiety about what happens after his senior year and learning to be more confident.
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  • Coming-Out Story: Sebastian struggles with letting people know he's bisexual, but with getting close to Emir and developing as a team player and team leader, he starts to be more comfortable with it and telling others.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Sebastian is dreading life after high school since he doesn't think he's great enough to land on a college soccer team.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Sebastian pours over Emir's looks and body in his inner monologue; taken to the extreme when he goes to wake him up for morning runs and sees that Emir sleeps in just his underwear and sees his "morning wood" tenting his briefs.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Combined with Training Montage, Sebastian and Emir get closer as Sebastian starts training Emir to be a better player so he can make the team. It helps that they play rough during their training.
  • Formerly Fat: Sebastian, who was nicknamed "Bastian the Trashcan" when he was younger due to his size. He constantly frets his weight and body image.
  • Gayngst: Downplayed, but present. Sebastian becomes self-conscious about his sexuality and tries to hide it from his parents and strangers, and is even a bit uncomfortable on a queer-inclusive team. Coach Patrick made the team a safe space for queer athletes, and the straight players have no problem with the gay/bi ones.
  • Hero of Another Story: The story is about Sebastian and Emir, but Willie goes through a career-ending injury, a new romance with Hunter and dealing with seeing his crush Sebastian get close to another boy. Willie is basically just a side character in how the book treats him.
  • I'll Be in My Bunk: After seeing Emir nearly naked, Sebastian really hopes his bunkmate Willie is at a long breakfast because Sebastian needed some "alone time."
  • Ineffectual Loner: Emir joins the team and immediately outcasts himself from the teammates, leading his teammates to hate him.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Mason, who's not shy about playing the field, wants to desperately shove his feelings for Grey down.
  • Nice Guy: Hunter, who's friendly to everyone but even he couldn't pierce through Emir's frosty front.
  • Oblivious to Love: Sebastian didn't realize Emir fell in love with him when they were kids, that was justified as he wasn't aware he was bisexual. But he also never noticed that Willie was also into him.
  • Playing Hard to Get: Mason towards Grey, he's very rude to her throughout the book, but Grey never lets up on trying to get with Mason.
  • Really Gets Around: Mason, who hooks up with guys and girls, and shares his sexcapades with his friends.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Coach Patrick is a tough and but fair coach who knows how to motivate, as well as he wants to team to be a non-judgmental space for gay/bisexual players ever since his nephew (also an athlete) came out.
  • Summer Campy: The book takes place in a soccer summer training camp, switch out the usual tropes for coaches and constant drills.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Emir is the team's outcast and he refuses to get close to anyone, Sebastian, over time, thaws him out and from there Emir starts to open up more and adorably acts lovestruck when around Sebastian.
  • Their First Time: Sebastian and Emir consummate their relationship at camp.
  • Tomboyish Name: Grey, whose given name is Grace but she thought that was too girly.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Grey, the coach's step-daughter, is a soccer nut, and dislikes typical girly things though when trying to woo Mason, she does put on some eyeliner.
  • Weight Woe: Sebastian has body dysmorphia due to being teased all through his childhood for being pudgy and even gets anxious when looking at himself in the mirror.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Sebastian and Emir were childhood friends, but they fell out of touch as they grew up. And when at summer training camp, Emir can't seem to stand Sebastian. This was due in part to Emir growing attracted to Sebastian and Sebastian not noticing at all.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Emir is at camp and wants to be on the team, mainly to make his father proud as his father loves soccer.

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