Title: Girl Runner
Author: Carrie Snyder
Publisher: John Murray Press, Two Roads
Date of Publication: 12 February 2015
Number of Pages: 384
Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (adult)
Rating: 5 star
Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Girl Runner is the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten by history. For Aganetha, a competitive and ambitious woman, her life remains present and unfinished in her mind.
When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her childhood in rural Ontario and her struggles to make an independent life for herself in the city.
Part historical page-turner, part contemporary mystery, Girl Runner is an engaging and endearing story about family, ambition, athletics and the dedicated pursuit of one’s passions. It is also, ultimately, about a woman who follows the singular, heart-breaking and inspiring course of her life until the very end.
Review: I thought, given how much I loved this book, a review would be easy to write. I sat down at my desk and waited for the words to flow onto the page and nothing has happened. The glowing review comes out of my fingertips in a jumble of half formed sentences and ideas. Subtle. Powerful. Brazen. Heart wrenching. Engaging. Joyous. So many adjectives that just can’t do justice to the experience.
I made a note, about halfway through that the story was seamlessly disjointed and perfectly depicted the physical decline of a very old lady who was still functioning cognitively. Snyder’s telling of Aggie’s life flows effortlessly into the next, moving between the past and the present without getting lost or confused. There are so many parts, within the whole, for Snyder to control, it would have been incredibly easy for the narrative to turn into a mess. The fact that it doesn’t is amazing.
Girl Runner is the first book this year, where I have had such a genuine emotional response. I adore Aggie. So much of her I can see in myself. Aggie always wants to keep moving, she can’t help but run. She wants to escape to something more, something better even though she has no idea what the more or the better actually is. I know what this is like but for me it’s the being restricted to the one spot, wanting to travel, experience the world, find the new moment of enlightenment.
To write this review I haven’t looked at what others have thought. To be blunt, I don’t care what others thought. My only regret is that I can’t read it again for the first time. Carrie Snyder is an author I will follow for future work because Snyder is only going to get better.