by Ann Patchett

Paper Book, 2007





New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2007.


Struggling with single parenthood and a scandal that cost him his political career, Bernard Doyle fights his disappointment with his adopted sons' career choices before a violent event forces the members of his family to reconsider their priorities.

User reviews

LibraryThing member msbaba
Run, by Ann Patchett, is a deeply satisfying novel about family. In particular, it is about individual responsibility within ever-widening realms of family loyalty. By family, the author is not referring merely to that small group of people to which each of us are related by bonds of blood, marriage, or adoption, but more importantly, the wider family of friends, community, and nation.

At the center of this novel are the Doyles, a powerful Boston Catholic political family. The father is a lawyer who believes strongly in the importance of public service. He worked hard to serve his community and eventually became the city’s mayor. But that career ended abruptly when his eldest son became involved in a Kennedy-Chappaquiddick-like scandal that ruined the father’s chance for reelection. Relentlessly, the father tries to steer each of his three sons toward a public service career. He dreams one of his sons will become President of the United States. All have the talent and brains, but none of the boys are interested. Each has completely different ideas about what he wants to do with his life. Not one son has bought into the father’s deep abiding beliefs in wider family responsibility—that is, not until the fateful 24-hour period that defines the entire scope of this novel. After this day is ended, everyone and everything about this family is changed profoundly.

Run has a large cast of main characters, all vying for the lead role. These characters have significant economic, racial, and personal differences. They are interesting people, and the reader learns to care about them. There are no villains in this book. Everyone is redeemable. But these characters are not very different from the everyday people that most of us know in real life. They are not anything like the odd assortment of completely unique characters that populated Bel Canto, and this alone will no doubt disappoint many fans. But, all the characters in this book are vividly real—after all this is what Patchett does best. In addition, the quality of the writing is outstanding: Patchett’s prose positively soars! It is clear, clean writing that doesn’t take your breath away, or distract from the storyline, but it shows mastery, quietly and sparingly, in every word.

Bel Canto left readers with a loving heartach. Run leaves its readers with a contented smile. Bel Canto gave readers characters that they will remember and care about for a long time. I am afraid that will not happen with the characters in Run. These characters will probably soon be forgotten after the reader has moved on to a few more novels. Why? Perhaps we need the shock of an unhappy ending to sear a set of characters into our minds forever; perhaps we are just not too interested in the overall larger family values message; or perhaps we long for stories about people completely different from ourselves.

All this being said, readers will still find Run satisfying, enjoyable, and definitely worth reading. But don’t expect to be swept off your feet. This is not that type of book.
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LibraryThing member wolffamily
By the author of Bel Canto. Not nearly as good.
LibraryThing member sharonlflynn
This is a beautifully written novel and I enjoyed it very much. I have only read Bel Canto before, which I also enjoyed.

Run is about a family, living in contemporary Boston. Doyle is the patriarch, a retired politician and widower. He is coming to terms with the reality that his sons have no interest in politics. His eldest son, Sullivan, disappointed him many years ago. His two adopted sons, African American brothers, Tip and Teddy are coming of age, but have no interest in politics either.

On a snowy night, as Doyle, Tip and Teddy are leaving a political speech, Tip steps in front of a car, and is pushed out of the way by a passer-by. The woman is badly hurt and brought to hospital, leaving her daughter Kenya behind in the snow.

This book, for me, was about the relationships between family members. We have the three brothers: Sullivan, Tip and Teddy. Then there are two father figures: Doyle and Fr Sullivan, who acts in a father capacity to Teddy. There are three absent mothers: Bernadette Doyle, Tennessee and her old friend. Finally, there is Kenya, the child who needs a family, and finally gains one.
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
A book club selection............I liked this story. It was an unusual plot about a complex family (aren't they all complex?). When I think of this book I will consider all the ways/reasons people run: to something, away from something, over something, run the show, run for fun, run competitively, run for office......and I am sure you can think of more. All of these occured in this novel. A nice book with a pretty nice ending.… (more)
LibraryThing member berylweidenbach
A very interesting story about what it means to be "family", about what part chance plays in our lives, our decisions, our loyalties. Well written, though slow moving at times, the story comes together in the end leaving you surprised and surprisingly pleased! If things do tend to turn out the way they are meant to be, as people so often say, then this is a perfect example of that statement. Though our lives usually don't turn out exactly as we envisioned, looking back later, we can sometimes say "I wouldn't change a thing..." because changing one thing would change everything!… (more)
LibraryThing member knielsen83
I was really very happy to see that Ann Patchett had written a new novel and I just ate this one up. There's so much involved in it - family, politics.... death, religion. It takes place over 24 hours and its just amazing. The characterization is astounding, as is in most of Patchett's novels. You can really see the characters as real people.… (more)
LibraryThing member karieh
It’s funny what the passage of time can do to the quality of a book. In the years since I read Bel Canto, I’ve read everything that Ann Patchett has written and have recommended them to my other book loving friends. I’ve liked all of her books and LOVED some of them, and have eagerly awaited her next offering.

Run, while a lovely book, has not benefited from that passage of years because I have since built Patchett’s writing talents up in my mind as to be almost unattainable, even by the author herself. Who knows if a second reading of Bel Canto would result in the magic I’ve held on to in my memory, but Run does not.

I remember Bel Canto as possessing of phrasing as soaring and lyrical as the operas sung by one of the main characters. The prose in Run is, while certainly not sparse, is more matter of fact. We get to know the characters but our look of this world more closely resembles a well drawn sketch than the multi-layered painting of words that I expected from Patchett.

Even as I write these words, I am trying to figure out from where my disappointment stems…and I think it is that, in a book that is about family, the mothers do not play much of an active role. True, I am a mother and may be biased…but although the theme of mother love comes up again and again – I don’t FEEL it. I feel the main characters doubt themselves, their choices, their actions. I feel them trying, usually without success, to express themselves to the other characters. I see what they do and what happens to them…but I don’t care as much as I want to.

Teddy and Tip seem to be awfully well-adjusted young men, despite the fact that they were places for adoption at a very young age, their adoptive mother died after only a few years, and they were raised by a father of a race not their own. I understand that they lived a privileged life, monetarily, but they just don’t seem to have any real problems. They don’t spend much time grieving for the loss they’ve experienced in their lives – which doesn’t seem very believable to me.

I cared most about what happens to Kenya, but was certainly not surprised by the end result. Her fate seemed cemented the second the accident that is the main event of the book takes place. She is more clearly and deeply defined than the other characters, and yet, even from her, I don’t experience the depth of feeling one might expect given what happens.

It’s like just as a major event takes place – the book cuts to black and there is a time or place shift.

Most of my reviews are packed with quotes from the book – but I only found myself drawn to a few passages. One of them: “He looked at her, at the crown of her head bowed there beneath his chin, at the straight lines that ran between her braids. At some point she had taken off her hat. At some point her mother had put this child on the floor between her knees and parted her hair with such mathematical consideration that he could read her intentions in the child’s scalp.” See? THAT’S the beauty that Patchett draws from a single moment in time.

I guess what it comes down to is that I wanted more. Not more words or more to happen – just more. I liked Run, and will of COURSE be first in line to buy Patchett’s next book…but I can’t say that I will recommend it with the same enthusiasm that I do Bel Canto. Who knows – time will pass…
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LibraryThing member strandbooks
This is the third book by Ann Patchett that I've really enjoyed and yet I'm always reluctant to read her books since I hated Bel Canto so much. Thanks to someone dropping this off in my little free library I gave it a chance. The characters are so well-developed and there's a very strong plot, even though it all takes place in less than 24 hours. I recommend reading the author interview at the end.… (more)
LibraryThing member LeesyLou
I almost never read contemporary fiction, yet couldn't put this compelling novel down. It's a masterpiece of weaving threads of lives, thoughts, ambitions, and moralities together into a fabric of prose.
Bernard Doyle has lost his wife to illness, his oldest son to get-rich-quick-at-the-expense-of-others morality, his older adopted son to academia and his youngest to dreamy hopes of priesthood. Yet one night after a Jesse Jackson speech to which he drags the younger two, all the Doyle's lives are changed when Tip is pushed out of the path of an oncoming vehicle by a passing woman. In a moment not only does the younger Doyles' birth mother enter all of their lives, but so does her 11 year old daughter. Not only does this spur changes in everyone's inter-relations, it changes how they think of themselves, their futures, and their dreams.
This examination of hope, personal growth and family proceeds to investigate the issues of what it means to be a parent, what is owed to family, and what is owed to the self.
I highly recommend it.
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LibraryThing member QuestforClassic
Dash, sprint, hurdle and pick up your copy of Run!!

Run by Ann Patchett is worth your pocket change for it’s a book, I’m sure, that you’ll want to own. You will want to write your name on the inside cover (get the paperback with French flaps!); you will want to lend it to all your friends and you will definitely want to hound them to get it back. Run is treasure.

Aside from the opening and closing chapters, the entire action-packed, emotion-packed story of Run takes place within a twenty four hour time frame. Patchett, of course, it not the first novelist to do this, but she is one of the few to pull it off so eloquently. Her words are soft and precise, but the levels of tension are impossible to ignore. Pages fly by- without the heart-pounding action expected in quick-to-read books- and the end comes almost as a quick snap on a rope. Before I knew it, I was on page page 180 and the noon sun had just barely risen in the sky of snowy Boston.

The story is centered around two families whose lives merge as a result of a car accident. The first family is the Doyles: former mayor Doyle, his biological son Sullivan, and his two adopted, black sons Tip and Teddy. The second family is the Mosers: mother Tennessee and daughter Kenya. After having to follow their father to a Jesse Jackson lecture, Tip and Teddy (young twenties) are desperate to go home. It’s a cold, snowy night in Boston and Tip longs to be studying fish fossils while pious Teddy longs to be with his uncle, Reverend Sullivan. The duo is sick of having to follow their political-oriented father to lectures and talks, and Tip decides to do something about it. When they are finally let out of the crowded lecture hall, Tip tells his father that this is his last political event and walks backwards in street. In a flash, a car roars towards Tip and, out of nowhere, an older black woman jumps into traffic and pushes Teddy to the side. While Teddy’s ankle is broken, the stranger’s hip is nearly shattered and she is knocked unconscious by the slick pavement. When the paramedics and police arrive, the woman -Tennessee- is loaded into the ambulance and her thirteen year old daughter Kenya is released to Doyle and company. Who is Tennessee? Who is Kenya? Who are Tip and Teddy? …

This novel gracefully plunges into the heated depths of nature versus nurture, race, class, biology, familial responsibly, loss and love. Read it; you’ll love it.
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LibraryThing member marient
Since their mother's death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive,and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes and accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children-all his children-safe.… (more)
LibraryThing member MaowangVater
On a cold and snowy night in Boston, an adopted son of the former mayor is almost run over by an SUV. At the last moment he’s shoved out of its path by an unknown woman who is hit by the vehicle. In the hospital his family meets her family, an eleven-year-old girl who says that her mother is his birthmother.

Patchett tells a richly textured tale of family relationships, bereavement, spirituality, parental expectations and achievements that subtly juxtaposes economic divisions in American society.… (more)
LibraryThing member alaskabookworm
Patchett is a glorious writer. There are aspects of this book I loved: adoption, family, loyalty, love, identity. But I really found the story-telling to be a bit disjointed; the amount of time describing the origin of the Mary statue at the book's beginning undermined what seemed to be the purpose of its inclusion. Knowing the details of Kenya's origin was necessary to the story, but the dream-sequence revelation seemed out of place. Overall, I liked this book, but I'd suggest it as a library "rental" rather than shelling out full price for.… (more)
LibraryThing member zkimom
I so loved Ann Patchett's books Bel Canto, The Magician's Apprentice and The Patron Saint of Liars, that I ran out and got a copy of Run as soon as I saw it in print. I have to say that I was disappointed in her most recent work. The characters didn't connect with me and the story line was choppy. While there were elements of the other worldly magic that appears so frequently in her previous books, I felt they were thrown in randomly and didn't add much to either the development of the story or the characters themselves. It felt as if there were some very good ideas for both character and plot but that they were thrown together without enough time for them to blossom into the story that could have been. I will continue to look for more work from Ms. Patchett but I think I may have to re-read one of her older books in order to get my "fix."… (more)
LibraryThing member cms519
Another beautifully written book by Ann Patchett. Another compelling story with amazing description and relatable characters. Run was a joy to read. I have reread a number of passages just to enjoy them again.
LibraryThing member bookstar
So disappointing! I loved Bel Canto, and was expecting a lot from this new book by Ann Patchett and was incredibly let down. The writing wasn't nearly as good and the plot was weak. There was one interesting twist, the only reason I continued to read, but even that wasn't amazing. I read it in the matter of a few hours and can't say I'm sad it's over.… (more)
LibraryThing member sagustocox
After participating in Book Club Girl's radio discussion of the book with Ann Patchett, I was happy to learn that some of my thoughts about Bernard Doyle, the father in the book, were on target. He reminded me of Joe Kennedy, Sr., because of his drive to get his sons interested in politics and becoming president some day. He pushes his sons into watching other politicians speak at seminars and lectures even when it is obvious that these boys are not interested in politics at all. I enjoyed the Web radio discussion with Patchett about her writing process and how difficult it has become for her to write books as her life has grown more complex. She says that she examines her novel ideas in depth to uncover her characters motivations.

***Spoiler Alert***

This story centers on the Doyle family, led by Bernard a former mayor of Boston. Bernadette and Bernard have one son of their own, but when she miscarries a second child, they adopt two African American sons. These sons become Doyle's focus after he loses his wife and a fateful accident causes Sullivan to break free from the family and go his own way. While Bernard wishes his sons would enjoy politics as much as he does, his adopted sons have their own life designs. Tip is interested in icthyiology and Teddy spends a great deal of time with their faith healing uncle Father Sullivan.

One night, the Doyles--minus Sullivan--are leaving a political speech by Jesse Jackson at Harvard University when a mysterious woman saves Tip from being hit by a car. The rest of the story unfolds quickly within a 24-hour period to reveal years of fear, anguish, and regret.

***End Spoiler Alert***

Although I enjoyed uncovering the many layers to the lives of these characters, I was often distracted by some of the lengthier passages from Father Sullivan or about Father Sullivan's healing power. These passages made it seem like there was more to this story, which never really came to fruition. Father Sullivan does play a role in the boys' lives, but the passages dedicated to him could have been shorter. Patchett's use of language is very languid and it flowed well in many sections of the book. The exchange between Tennessee and her old friend after the car accident foreshadowed quite a bit of the remaining plot points.

One of my biggest concerns about the beginning of the novel was the rough time I had telling the difference between Tip and Teddy; they almost seemed like the same person other than their different interests. If Patchett had chosen another name for Tip, it may have worked better. Teddy's name was appropriate given his kind nature. Kenya's name seemed cliche to me, especially given that her favorite thing to do was run.

I have not read other Patchett novels, though I do have Bel Canto in my TBR pile. I would recommend this book for readers of Patchett, but from what I understand from others it is not the best example of her work.
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LibraryThing member sunshine608
I couldn't really get it this and considering I somehow missed a HUGE plot devlopement in the 100 or so pages I did read, I just gave up. I will try again later.
LibraryThing member Donna828
A good airplane book with a somewhat interesting plot but a predictable, too neatly wrapped-up ending. The characters were stereotyped and bland. The discovery of a birth mother should elicit some type of emotional reaction other than mild caring for the injuries suffered when she "saves" the son who didn't know of her existence. I would put this in my "guilty pleasure" category of a book that was a pleasant but easily forgotten read.… (more)
LibraryThing member mnagy
I've loved Ann Patchett's books in the past and so was really looking forward to reading Run. The book was good but left me wanting more. Although in many respects I could easily relate to the characters, I didn't feel invested in them at the end. A good read but disappointing based on my other experiences with Ann Patchett.
LibraryThing member clik4
Run by Ann Patchett is a multi-character story about family. One family consists of a run.giffather, a mother and one son. Regrettably only one son. The family adopts two little boys and the world seems a sunny place to be until the death of the mother. The Father is a political enthusiast, while the boys gravitate to their own interests while dealing with the blow of losing a mom. Patchett allows each character their voice and viewpoint while moderating the story of the emotional difficulties associated with family and growing up. The second family has a mother and one little girl. This family does not live in the good neighborhood but is bound tightly together by discipline and dreams. One dark and snowy evening after a Jesse Jackson lecture a car wreck ties both families together in unexpected ways.… (more)
LibraryThing member sallyscape
A compelling and interesting read about a multi race family and the impact of a unknown about sister turning up after an accident that affects the whole family.
LibraryThing member missmath144
In an interview, Ann Patchett said that to her the book was about politics, to her publisher it was about family, but she wants every reader to see in it what he/she will.

Tennesee Moser gave her baby up for adoption. A very short time later, she decided she wanted her boys to be together, so (through the adoption agency) she requested and got permission for the new family to also adopt her little boy. Of course, when the white mayor of Boston adopts a black baby, and soon after another little black boy, it is easy for Tennessee to figure out where her children are. Ten years later, she finds herself raising a daughter named Kenya. Throughout the years, she and Kenya stand in the shadows of her boys' lives, watching over them. Other than flashbacks and flash-forwards, this book takes place on a winter day in which Tennessee sees one of her boys back up (while arguing with his father) into the path of an oncoming SUV. She pushes him to safety, putting herself in the path of the oncoming vehicle. At this point, the paths of the two families begin to intertwine. The characters are believable, likeable good people with flaws. Their lives all change on this day, in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse. The novel is beautifully crafted and it was a pleasure to listen to.… (more)
LibraryThing member mthacher
Parts of this story didn't really work for me, but I stayed engaged. I listened to an interview with Patchett in which she said she is not a great stylist, but she pays a lot of attention to structure and moving the story along, and that's true. The premise was interesting, even if at times unbelievable.
LibraryThing member mojomomma
This story picks up one day in the life of brothers Teddy and Tip. Both are college students in Boston and were adopted as an infant and a toddler by a white couple. Their adoptive mother died while they were still young and their adoptive father raises them on his own, with his older natural-born son, Sullivan, as he rises through city government to eventually become the mayor of Boston. One night after a Jesse Jackson lecture and during a fierce snowstorm, an SUV slides out of control and is headed towards Tip when he is pushed out of the way by a mysterious black woman accompanied by her own daughter. The woman is hit and eventually dies of her injuries. Her daughter is looked after by father and his sons and they learn that this 11-year-old girl already knows them, although they know nothing about her. The woman who saves Tip turns out to be Tip and Teddy's birth mother, who has been quietly following them around throughout their life. All the familty relationships and the race issues in this book make it very interesting.… (more)


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