All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

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Happy reading!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Run, by Ann Patchett


Ann Patchett's Run is a delight. An interesting story with unpredictable elements and rich and likable characters, Run focuses on the nontraditional story of a former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle. A widower, he raised to adulthood a biological son and two adopted sons, but finds that his family may not yet be complete.

Doyle was a former Boston politician who still had a passion for public service. He and his wife, who were both white, adopted two African American boys, Tip and Teddy, as very young children, in what some criticized as a political move. Just three blocks away from their affluent neighborhood, Kenya Moser lived with her mother, Tennessee, in a apartment project. At the book's opening, a disagreement between father and son following a political speech leads to an accident in which the former mayor and his sons' lives collide with 11-year-old Kenya and her mother Tennessee, leaving the families merged in a unexpected way.

Doyle works tirelessly to ignite the passion for public service in one of his two younger sons, but finds they have little interest in becoming the next President of the United States, as he hoped. Tip was a brilliant student, loved fish, and wanted to become an ichthyologist. Teddy was taller, a year younger, and tended toward being late and misplacing things. If Tip was the brain, Teddy was the heart. Sullivan Doyle, the eldest son, was 12 years older than the boys, and appeared in the story in time for a "late Christmas" visit with his family. His arrival wasn't for precisely sentimental reasons, but because of legal complications that necessitated an unplanned departure from Africa, where he had been most recently living. He finds Kenya living with his family, her mother hospitalized, and uncovers his own path of personal discovery.

In the meantime, the Doyles discover that Kenya Moser is a runner. In this passage on pp. 239-240, Kenya is Tip's guest on the college running track:

"She was hopping up and down now, a manic pink spring, ready to spend the ounce of herself she had been holding on to tight, tight, tight. She put her hands on the ground and tried to make herself stretch but she didn't think she had the time. She felt certain if she waited another minute she was going to explode. It would all come raining down on her and the last thing she wanted to be was a girl crying on the Gordon Track. That would get her thrown out for sure. She stood and for an instant went up on her toes and then, at the crack of a gun that she kept in her head, she was gone."

Run is one of my favorite Ann Patchett novels, and was published by Harper Collins in 2007. A favorite local author, Patchett has written a number of bestsellers, including The Magician's Assistant, and Bel Canto, which won the Pen/Faulkner Award.

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