In Natalia Sylvester’s 2020 novel, Running, Senator Anthony Ruiz is running for president of the United States. He is a Republican. He is a U.S. Senator from Florida. And his daughter, 15-year-old Mariana, is not so keen about being a prop in his campaign.
At first, she simply objects to the invasion of her privacy by prying media, and parents too eager to show her off: “How much more of our lives will we give up before it’s no longer worth it?”
But as Mariana connects with young activists in her high school’s PODER social action club, she begins to awaken to issues in South Florida — and the world: the threat to clean water posed by the wealthy’s version of “development,” feminism, homophobia, class inequality, gentrification, and climate change. No, most 15-year-olds’ fathers do not run for president.
But it’s impossible not to be drawn in as Mariana’s growing critical awareness leads her further and further from her father’s empty campaign slogans — and, inexorably, toward a decision between obedience to her parents or to her conscience.
As Miami’s polluted water becomes the key issue of the campaign, Mariana concludes, “There is no such thing as both sides when one side is drinking contaminated water and the other side is contaminating it.” [Description from Rethinking Schools.]