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I had read Bel Canto a few years ago and was excited to read Run. I found the first chapter to be very engaging, and I was drawn into the story immediately. I especially liked Kenya's character and I thought Patchett did a nice job of having her narrate the story. Kenya's voice and perspective were refreshing and thoughtful. Patchett also did a wonderful job of conveying real feelings from the other characters as well. I enjoyed this book even though it was tied up a little too neatly at the end. As a reader I felt connected to the readers, as if they were real people. I look forward to reading more of her books.
Betsey Van Horn
Implausible, pandering--but with panache and beutiful writing
The writing is intelligent, the pace like a good, healthy jog. I have two minds about this book. Was it deep tasty chocolate, or plastic fruit? I could not put it down--it IS somewhat like good TV and is obviously written with cinema in mind. I also did care about the characters very much because Patchett has a knack for writing about people's psychological bearing and emotional state. And there are lovely descriptions with imagery that made me float through the story with ease.
The plot line has already been laid out well enough in the editorial reviews. Although highly coincidental, I would not have minded that at all--that can make for good storytelling--which it does. But there is another aspect to her writing--the pandering. It peals loudly. The 11-yr old girl, Kenya, has thoughts and actions like a 30-yr old. Even if she were a veritable genius, the sophistication of psychological insight would not be possible. I frequently groaned when Kenya was around.
I felt that the characters were essentially tools for Patchett's larger purpose--to tell this story and to weave some nice imagery along the way. But, I felt that when she was depicting the African American characters, she made them either cardboard or fatuously heroic (the tiny flaws only adding to their heroism)and was concerned about being politically correct. Her white characters suffered from the same whimpy characterizations, except for the old priest Sullivan. However, I felt he was also a tool, a vehicle for the story.
Despite these ghastly flaws, I still loved the story. The pace, the snow imagery, and the fact that even with all this confection there was a beautiful story involved--I ran right through it in two sittings. Guilty as charged.
I loved Bel Canto and was eager to read Run. Although it was well-paced and interesting enough to keep me engaged, the plot didn't seem plausible and none of the characters stayed with me once I was finished. With other books the characters linger with me for days and I didn't connect with any of these characters. I feel that this book was average and nothing like her other novels, all of which I have read (except Taft) and loved.
My book club read, and enjoyed, Bel Canto. I thought I would experience the same pleasure with Run. Sadly, I was disappointed. This book was more "run" of the mill, than page turner. I felt that the characters were unrealistic on one level (how many "Kennedy" type families would adopt poor children with no idea of where they came from?), and predictable on another (good son, bad son). Characters were not fully developed and I was left wondering what the real story was with the biological son.
I wouldn't spend money on this book. If you really want to read it, I'll give you my copy. It's not a keeper.
Ann Patchett's Run has to be one of the best books I have read this year. The plot of the story is light and the ending is predictable, but the character development and use of shifting point of view is brilliant. Each character in this novel is engaging, complex, and sympathetic. There is not one major character that does not jump off the page and demand attention and attention is what I gave them as I could not put this book down. I have not read Patchett's previous bestseller, so I have no point of comparison; but, her attention to structure and play with conventions, especially point of view, make her an accomplished writer in my eyes.
Mary Spilsbury Ross
Run and Find this Book
Like Ann Patchett's bestselling Bel Canto, Run is easily believable. In a 24 hour period we get to know a half dozen people who though related in various ways are all different in thought, ambition, desires and weakness. Icy cold is the temperature outside and inside the hearts of the characters. Father is cold to his firstborn son. Sullivan is chilled by his father's devotion to the two adopted brothers leaving him feeling useless and a failure. Kenya feels physically cold but is the character who begins to thaw the family out and resolve their differences. Ms. Patchett's really strong point is her ability to drift easily from narrative to dialogue even to inner dreams seamlessly. What a talent. My only criticism would be the ending. Not that I would want our heroine to be run over by a bus or a squad of Hell's Angels, but , to simply be sprinting around a parking lot in the middle of the night hoping her adoptive family might be peeking from the upstairs windows and applauding her stride, seems a little weak.