Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Run to Read It

by Ann Patchett

You may remember Ann Patchett's work if you are familiar with one of her famous books, Bel Canto (loved it!). If you liked Bel Canto, it is reasonably certain that you will like this one, but they are very different books. Run focuses on the family of widower Bernard Doyle, an Irish Catholic former mayor of Boston. He has three sons - Sullivan, a biological son who has not quite gotten his life together at age 33, and Tip and Teddy, two biological African-American brothers (early 20s) who were adopted into the Doyle family as infants. Much of the story centers around the different ways that the sons have coped with the tragic death of their mother when they were still children. Their mother, Bernadette, although deceased, is nevertheless a major figure in her sons' development.

I will not give away too much of the plot, as I do not want to ruin the clever way that Patchett unfolds this story. Suffice it to say that she makes it look easy. The reader will have a sense after finishing it that there are many factors that create a family. We can no longer assume that all family members look alike or think alike or behave the same way, and for the most part this is a good thing. Grace is found in people accepting each other and being determined to be there for one another in spite of differences.

I also love how Patchett weaves in racial, economic, and class themes without being preachy. She points out how clueless privileged people can be about the struggles of poor people, but she does not portray the Doyles as malicious or evil.

If you have read this book, I would love to know who your favorite characters are - they are all so rich and so well depicted. I particularly loved Sullivan and Kenya, but found the whole cast fascinating. The old priest's struggles with belief in the twilight of his life were also well articulated and (I thought) very moving.

Read this one. It will stay with you for a long time.

Reverent Reader


At 6/4/08, 9:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this book also. I thought Sullivan was very endearing and also thought the father was sweet and so well-intentioned. I can't recall a character that I didn't like (but it's been a few months since I've read it so some of the minor ones have receded). Don't forget where you got that book! :)


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