Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Run

Posted by nliakos on July 3, 2012

by Ann Patchett (Harper, 2007)

This is the story of Bernard Doyle, former mayor of Boston; his three sons Sullivan, Tip, and Teddy; their uncle Father Sullivan; Tip and Teddy’s birth mother, Tennessee (formerly Beverly) and her precocious eleven-year-old daughter, Kenya. The Doyles are a pretty dysfunctional family (remember Tolstoy’s line about all unhappy families being unhappy in unique ways?) who are forced to confront each other when Tennessee, who has silently and secretly observed her sons’ lives since giving them up for adoption when they were babies, comes between Tip and an oncoming SUV on a snowy night in Boston. In the 24 hours after the accident, the various members of the (now larger) family confront each other on several different levels.

My favorite character was Kenya. In the interview following the novel, Patchett reveals that although she did not intend to have a child in the story, “she became so much more central than I ever imagined her being.” Patchett says that for her, it was always Tip’s story, but for me, it was Kenya’s. I found Tip kind of hard to like. Tip’s into ichthyology, which suits him very well–he’s the kind of person we might call “a cold fish”, not considerate of others’ feelings and physically distant from the members of his family. (Only Kenya is able to approach him during the events following their accidental meeting; however, to be fair, I must add that Tip does “penance” later, as described in Chapter 11, which is really an epilogue.)

I don’t think anything can ever surpass Bel Canto for me, but I really enjoyed reading Run.

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