What is the Plot of the Book ‘Sunny’?

Sunny is a captivating 2018 young adult novel penned by American author Jason Reynolds. It is a part of the New York Times bestselling Track series, with each volume offering a unique insight into a different member of an elite middle-school track team. The narrative primarily revolves around the story of Sunny Lancaster, offering an in-depth exploration of his struggles as a character.

The Plot

The chronicle of Sunny Lancaster is woven throughout a week wherein he pens down a series of journal entries about his daily life. The intricate tales highlight the issues he has to navigate, encompassing childhood trauma, new interests, and complex family dynamics.

  • Sunny’s Dilemma: The narrative introduces us to Sunny’s anxiety as he chooses to quit running for his track team, the Defenders—an activity Darryl, his father, expects him to excel in to honor his deceased mother.
  • Avoiding the Pain: Sunny’s father and he confront their inability to process the weight of his mother’s loss. They nightly engross in puzzles that depict his mother’s images as a form of dealing with the pain.
  • Sunny’s New Interest: Sunny discovers a growing passion for dance and movement, which he learns from his private teacher, Aurelia; the best friend of his departed mother who is recovering from an addiction.
  • Darryl’s resistance and Sunny’s resolution: Despite Darryl’s attempts to convince him otherwise, Sunny communicates his desire to quit running due to the oppressive pressure.
  • Transitioning from the Track: A turning point arrives when Sunny’s coach, upon understanding his complicated situation, encourages him to try a different event: discus throw.

Character Relationships

Darryl and Sunny

Darryl and Sunny share a tense relationship as Sunny associates his birth with the loss of his mother—an event his father continually reminds him of. Both of them grapple with their individual grieving processes.

  • Darryl’s Coping Mechanism: He pushes Sunny emotionally away and exerts pressure on him to run, mirroring his grieving process for his lost partner and his futile attempts to reclaim control over an uncontrollable situation.
  • Sunny’s Rebellion: Sunny realizes that he is more than just a tool to live out his mother’s unfulfilled dreams and attempts to carve out his identity by understanding his desires.


The journey of Sunny Lancaster in the book represents a heartfelt narrative of a young boy exploring himself and navigating his identity. The story encapsulates raw emotions, childhood trepidations, vulnerability, and the pressures of carrying familial expectations. It beautifully portrays how the protagonist—through his personal and shared relationships, self-expression, joys, and struggles—discovers the freedom to pursue his passion while dealing with his life’s real and painful tragedies. The book, thus, serves as an exploration of identity, self-expression, and the healing nature of love and support.

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