Book Review: Run, by Ann Patchet

I read this one a little while ago, I think maybe at the end of February? I’d acquired it due to an iBooks sale, as it had been significantly marked down and was long. Suits me.
The other reason I thought it would be fun to check out this book is that it takes place mostly in my favorite city: Boston. I’ve visited no other major city as often, having gone five times. I neglected to document all of my journeys there, but you can check out the ones I did here in my old Live Journal.
One of the things about that city that I most enjoy is its character. Patchet does a great job really capturing that character throughout the story.
It starts with the death of the family matriarch, and the devastation her husband and kids feel as a result. However, we quickly realize that this “family” is not necessarily the most traditional of units. The husband, Doyle, is a former and much loved Boston mayor. He has an older white male child and two black adopted siblings.
Much of the novel centers on an 11-year-old girl who, as it turns out, is the sister of the two siblings. She and her mother thus take an extended interest in the mayor’s family, tracking them down as they meander about the city, onto the subway, while in parks, and most especially, as they attend political gatherings.
Doyle has as his main aim to get his kids to understand and become actively involved in politics, generally of the left-leaning variety. He takes them to speeches put on by Jesse Jackson and others, eventually causing all but one to lose interest in this pursuit entirely. He also frowns on one of the adopted siblings’ desire to become an ichthyologist, or studier of fish.
It is in departing one such political event in a fierce snow storm that the two family’s lives intersect when an accident occurs. We then learn that the 11-year-old is an avid runner, having practiced for many years and built her strength and speed up to near Olympic quality.
As I read, I found myself saying “Ah, I remember that place!”, or “I’ve eaten there”. There isn’t a whole lot of action therein per se, but somehow it was enough to grab me and keep my attention throughout.
Patchet seems to be exploring the role that politics, religion, and many of the other controversial subjects play in our lives. For example, we see an older individual who had been a reverend, believed to have healing powers that draw many sick and ailing people to his nursing home bedside.
I’ve also read State of Wonder by her, and always enjoy her vivid place descriptions. I believe I can recommend this book even over that one, as it has a little less of that distant, overly literature-ish feeling
I hope I can somehow go back and remember the other books I’ve read this year that got lost in the blog changeover. I suppose we shall see on that, though.

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