Book Review: Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Posted February 10, 2015 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 11 Comments

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder
Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder
on Feb. 3, 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Buy on The Book Depository

As a young woman, Aganetha “Aggie” Smart made history as a gold medalist in the 1928 Olympics, the first games in which women were allowed to compete in track events. Many decades later, at the age of 104, she is languishing in a nursing home when two young strangers, a boy and a girl, appear and ask to interview her for a film they are making to help fund the girl’s own Olympic dreams. Aggie eagerly agrees; although she is bound to a wheelchair and rarely speaks, her mind is still sharp, and she yearns for adventure.

The young strangers take Aggie to her old family farm, where her memories come flooding back. As the strangers ineptly handle the old woman, she relives her childhood and young adulthood, remembering her beloved sister who died too young, her running career, her deep friendship with another runner, a romance that has massive ramifications, and family secrets.

Moving back and forth between the present and the past as it gradually pulls back the layers of Aggie’s life, Girl Runner is a portrait of a woman’s lifelong battle against social conventions as she lives, loves, and runs with little regard to the rules.

On paper, I should love this book. Novels about ladies subverting expectations through history are kind of my jam. And I liked this book — Aggie is an interesting character with a fascinating life, and the way Snyder writes about running is fantastic — but it didn’t blow me away. There was some homosexual subtext that I wished was explored better, the ending felt a bit too predictable and tidy, and it lacked the emotional punch I was hoping for. Overall, I enjoyed this novel while I was reading it, but it hasn’t really stuck with me since I finished.

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  • I don’t know why I’ve been sitting on picking this up…I’ve had a copy since I grabbed one at SIBA several months ago. Like you, everything about it seems to be pretty perfect for me, but I’ve been afraid that it wouldn’t have enough conflict (and, honestly, I’ve been craving conflict in my reading lately!).

  • Laura Frey

    I feel the same way. Been procrastinating on my review because I feel like I should have liked it more than I did.

    • I procrastinated on writing this for so long, too! It was so hard to write about because although I enjoyed it, it didn’t really stand out.

  • I did find that I could guess where the story was going before it got there, so if you’re expecting a big finale, then you will probably be disappointed. But, for some reason, I didn’t mind – I liked the story well enough that it didn’t need to be holding any big secrets or mysteries. I especially liked seeing the decades go by, and getting a sense of the changing views and limits on women. Wouldn’t you love to have a good conversation with someone who is 104 years old?

    • I liked seeing how the roles of women changed through the decades, too, but I felt like the author kind of held back on some things; I think I wanted this book to be a little gutsier.

      My boyfriend’s great grandma is actually 101 and still living independently! She’s amazing — she emigrated from Poland, by herself, when she was 15, and she still oversees the making of the pierogi every Christmas.

      • “…I wanted this book to be a little gutsier.” is a good way to put it. I can totally see that.
        101 is amazing! Anyone older that 90 and still with it amazes me.

  • I’ve heard similar things about this one from others as well. On the surface, I would think I’d love this book and had it on my TBR list, but may take it off now.

  • Interesting. Like you, in theory I should love this book, but there is something holding me back from reading it. I was going to give a pass on it all together, but so many people have said enough good things that I think I will give it a try. From the library.

  • Coming back to this post now that I’ve written mine. 🙂 Like you, I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, for the most part. The hopping around in time felt awkward to me. I think Aganetha’s character is what carried me through the book. I actually really liked the ending for some reason (maybe I was in the right mood, ha!). But overall, I just “liked” the book.

  • Your review generally matches what I’ve heard from others and I actually didn’t pick this up because I felt like it might not be as good as it seemed like it should be. Like you, I think the premise of this sounds like something I should really like, but it seems like the execution is only ok.

  • Isi

    I have been seeing this book everywhere lately and I think I will like it, even though some reviews are not the enthusiastic type, like yours. But I think it’s an interesting subject, and I love books about women who are the firsts to achieve goals than we later take for granted :))