“Run” by Ann Patchett

I found this book by accident, during my first post-Covid IRL visit to my local library! HOW did I miss it before? Run was Patchett’s second novel (2007), after the wonderful Bel Canto (2005)

Run was ahead of its time in its consideration of race. The book triggered my curiosity about transracial adoption. 

The plot: A prominent white urban politician (and his wife) adopt two black children to “complete” their family after infertility thwarts their desire for a second child. The wife dies, and the father is left to raise a ten year old son and two preschoolers. Almost two decades later, the father learns that the birth mother of his two younger boys has “stalked” his family persistently. Perhaps this revelation had been inevitable. Everyone has to rethink his/her identity and role. A girl, the younger half-sister of the adopted boys, emerges as a major character. 

All these characters are strongly drawn and believable. The oldest son, Sullivan, is particularly interesting, reminding me slightly of Marilynne Robinson’s “prodigal” son Jack Boughton in the Gilead series, another story in which race is examined. 

I can’t think of any other novel with a one word-three letter name. “Run” has so many meanings. A politician “runs” for office. A manager “runs” an office. I “run” to catch a train. Life, in many ways, is an endurance run. Patchett’s characters are all struggling to do their best with what life throws at them. 

I’m glad that there are several more books by Patchett for me to read. 


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