Monday, April 25, 2011

Not a Runner, but Liking Run

There are many ways in which one could run.  For instance, one could run fast.  One could run for office.  One could run away from his problems.  In Run by Ann Patchett, all of these ways of running are explored in the microcosm of the Doyle Family. 

Bernard and Bernadette Doyle have one son, Sullivan.  Years after Sullivan's birth, they decide to adopt another, and then are contacted by the adoption agency to see if they would also like the brother of the child who they adopted.  That the babies are African American is of no consequence to the white Doyles.  In Kennedy fashion, Bernard tries to raise all three of his boys to be President one day, and he himself becomes the Mayor of Boston.  But the action in this novel happens one night while the adopted boys are in college, and one of them is injured after attending a speech.  It is then that through a series of unexpected events, the Doyles learn that the birth mother never really let go of her hold on the boys she gave up.

Prior to reading Run I had read Bel Canto by Patchett.  Run  and Bel Canto have a similar feel to them, even though they are based on completely different stories.  Bel Canto is based on the real life Lima Crisis, in which over a hundred people were held hostage in Lima, Peru beginning in 1996, with 72 of them being held for 126 days in the residence of the Japanese Ambassador.  The story in Bel Canto is of how the hostages and the captors got along for those days, and it was a better book than I had expected it to be. 

Note to self:  What is it with the novels based on true crimes?  A new genre to follow!

In Run, two families are pushed together, and co-exist for the length of the novel, which mostly takes place within 24 hours.  Every character in Run is likable, and it is easy to imagine being a lucky child adopted by the Doyles.  The novel is a little bit predictable, but it remains interesting.  The idea of a birth mother keeping track of the children she gave up for adoption is haunting, and makes the coincidences that at first seem contrived more believable. 

I would recommend Run to anyone who liked Bel Canto, and to others who are looking for a "nice" story to read.  I will not be recommending it to my husband's cousin who is white and who has adopted three African American children, because I think it would creep her out a little too much.

Next up on CD:  Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Still reading (and liking!) Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

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