Not Oprah’s Book Club: Run

As you all know, I read A LOT of serious nonfiction. Slap a Samantha Power book or an old political philosophy text in my hand, and I can be happy for a few hours. But sometimes my brain is in overdrive and my schedule is in overwhelm and what I really crave is a good, speedy novel–the kind you can devour in one or two sittings.
I was in that mode recently and had the chance to race through Run by Ann Patchett. With the clouds floating outside the airplane window, I immersed myself in a world of family secrets, long held relational patterns, race, class, and politics. The nice thing about Run was that, while it was a really fast, easy read, it also had some major substance to it.
Essentially it is about a family colored by death and adoption. The former mayor of Boston (a white dude) has one biological child and two adopted children (both black) and is forced to raise them alone after his wife dies. His relationship with the three boys, and later on some surprise characters that come (back) into all of their lives, are the center of the book. Throw in some mystical healings, a few ghosts, and a couple of car accidents and you’ve got yourself a suspenseful, if not always sophisticated, sociological thriller. My one reservation about this book was that sometimes it felt like the race and class elements played out a little too black and white. It sometimes reminded me of a less evolved On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Which is one of my favorite books ever.

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