Ann Patchett's style is spare and readable, but the themes of her work far from clean-cut. In Run, her fifth novel, racial identity is just one of the contentious issues up for debate. Bernard Doyle, an Irish Catholic politician (soon to be mayor of Boston), finds himself a widower shortly after adopting a pair of African-American brothers. What happens when a lone white male raises two black infants lies at the heart of the novel – as does the role of mothers, both the living and the dead. Matters come to a head when, years later, the family attends a Jesse Jackson lecture – which triggers an unusual train of events. Patchett is a writer who likes to subvert from within.
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