Run by Ann Patchett
I’ve been in a fiction drought for a bit, and this book was like fresh rain. It begins with a cherished family heirloom: a statue of a saint, which closely resembles Bernadette Doyle, wife of Boston mayor Bernard Doyle. The couple has one biological son, Sullivan, and two adopted sons, Tip and Teddy (yes, named for those famous Massachusetts politicians). The family is powerfully Irish Catholic, and they do not blink at adopting Tip and Teddy, who are African American. When the children are still young, Bernadette dies, leaving Bernard to raise the boys on his own. While Sullivan turns out to be quite a disappointment to the family(though they will not admit it), studious Tip attends Harvard and falls in love with the study of fish, and tenderhearted Teddy seems destined for the priesthood – following in the footsteps of an adored uncle (who may just be performing miracles from his nursing home bed). Then, one night after a political lecture, Tip is nearly run down by a car, and he is saved by a woman named Tennessee, who throws herself into harm’s way to keep him safe – and who is his biological mother. Tennessee and her young daughter Kenya have been benevolently stalking Tip and Teddy for years, it turns out. The family circle has just expanded in a most unexpected way… In the end, it is a book, very simply, about family love. I kept feeling surprised at the lushness of the detail Patchett includes in this story – it almost seemed like too much (she should save some of this good stuff for the next book!) – but then it turned out to be perfect. The title also makes a person think about the ways each character runs – whether they run as athletes, run for elected office, or run away… This is a book I’ll be re-reading for the sheer joy of it.