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Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
Posts: 2,613
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Welcome from your moderator

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the Barnes & Noble Book Club for Run. It's my pleasure to be your moderator for the discussion. I'm looking forward to meeting with all of you and hearing your thoughts and ideas.

Happy Reading!
Stephanie
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

Hi Stephanie, I'm looking forward to chatting with you and other readers about Ann Patchett's books. I've already made some posts in other threads.

I don't remember, so could you remind me, is the author planning to visit? I wasn't sure because there are no questions for the author on this thread.

I hope you will post some of your thoughtful questions to start the discussions. They may encourage other Patchett fans to join in the discussions.

Thank you.
IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
Posts: 2,613
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

Hi IBIS,

Good to see you!

This is the Talk About Books section, so no authors in these groups.

Please feel free to post any questions you like - anything about the book anyone would like to discuss?

Group: Just to get us started, how many of us here are Irish and took in the story of the statue without an eye-blink? :smileyhappy:
Stephanie
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

I'm not Irish; the statue of the Virgin doubling as a beautiful Irish colleen didn't make me blink at all. I'm familiar with religious sculptures created in a wide variety of ethnic diversity.

What did make me pause was having two adopted black boys living in this rarified white Boston ex-mayor's mansion. It made me wonder how they felt about a religious statue that reminded them so much of their Irish adopted mother.

In the novel, the boys seem to have acclimated very well to waht on the surface seems to be a big cultural shift... Bernadette and Doyle were loving parents, and the boys were raised in both emotional and physical comfort.

Although the story has race as a major theme, it seems to be one that isn't conflicted.

What do other readers think?

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

IBIS,

I guess I wasn't altogether clear- the minute I heard the story of the Italian in Rome sculpting the statue, I knew that the great-grandfather had stolen it. As one who is used to stories like that, happy as it started, I knew it couldn't end well. :smileyhappy: Of course, Bernadette told Doyle it was sad before she began.

As far as racial conflict, I didn't expect there to be any between the boys and Doyle. Other people, yes, but the boys were with him since they were babies, Tip 14 months and Teddy from birth.
Stephanie
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BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

I'm joining this really late, I see, but just wanted to say how much I enjoy Patchett's work. This book was as good as I'd anticipated.
I did wonder however, about the lack of any conflicted feelings within the boys with regard to their own heritage and being raised within a white family. It seems we have heard a lot about the conflicts inherent in interracial adoptions. Will the child feel like an outsider within his own family? Can parents of one race adequately model adulthood for children of another race? These seem to be legitimate questions, asked by concerned black social workers, and also by many adoptees themselves, including those from Asian countries.
Since the book ignores those questions, I wondered if it is because these raise such complicated issues in themselves, that addressing them would detract from, or unnecessarily complicate, the story the author wishes to tell. Or is it possible - as I would much prefer to believe - that in many interracial adoptive families these issues do not arise, the children do in fact feel loved and 'understood' by their parents, and not at all alienated, or at least not on account of racial differences. Tip's tension with his father over his career choice, for example, creates some alienation, but not because black kids are more drawn to fish than a white guy could possibly understand...
I think one of the reasons I grew to like this book so much is its unstated hopefulness, its simple acceptance of the deep love felt between every member of the family, and its implicit message that, yes, we can all get along.
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
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Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Welcome from your moderator



BookWoman718 wrote:
I think one of the reasons I grew to like this book so much is its unstated hopefulness, its simple acceptance of the deep love felt between every member of the family, and its implicit message that, yes, we can all get along.




Athough there is an over-arching hopeful message in RUN that, yes, we can all get along, there is a racial undercurrent that is difficult to ignore.

When Tip tells Kenya that the "gentry" cleaned out the black and brown people from their neighborhoods, Kenya asks why he and Teddy were not. Tip answers that he and Teddy stayed in the fancy neigborhood because although they are black, they are also rich. Being adopted by Doyle had an economic blessing. One out of two isn't bad.

SPOILER ALERT

When Tennessee is delivered to the hospital after her car accident, she has no health insurance. Did she get the total checkup that someone with health insurance (in other words, a white woman) is entitled to? We find out that she dies from the hemorage caused by an ruptured spleen...

An exhaustive checkup would never have missed a damaged spleen. It does make you wonder how her racial background, combined with not having health insurance, caused such a fatal oversight on the part of the hospital's staff.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Wordsmith
BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

Ibis, I'm a little uncomfortable with your reply, particularly in the way you say, "someone with health insurance (in other words, a white woman)..." I think we need to be careful about conflating race and poverty in that way, especially since this book seems to be making the point that these are two different things. Yes, non-whites are disproportionately represented in populations identified with poverty, but in this case, for instance, there are many working-poor whites who have no health insurance as well. Your question about the care given Tennessee is a good one, particularly as they ignore her complaints of pain in her abdomen, but hospitals are required to give medical assistance to anyone who comes in on an emergency basis, as Tennessee did, regardless of their insurance or lack of it. I guess we can speculate that someone chose to give her less than the gold standard of care because of insurance questions, but I think it's a stretch to assign that to racism. Do you think she wouldn't have had Medicaid because of her legal identity problems? Not wanting to come to the attention of authorities?
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IBIS
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BookWoman718 wrote:
I guess we can speculate that someone chose to give her less than the gold standard of care because of insurance questions, but I think it's a stretch to assign that to racism. Do you think she wouldn't have had Medicaid because of her legal identity problems? Not wanting to come to the attention of authorities?




By itself, I agree, that poverty (or in this story, lack of health insurance) should not be confused with racism. In a perfect world, everyone (rich or poor) should have health insurance. But in this story, there's a greater chance that a white women, without health insurance, may have received better healthcare.

It's a timely topic in 2008. Massachusetts is undergoing major health insurance reform -- where everyone, in every economic class, in all racial groups, MUST have health insurance. This is in response to the free care health programs that were enacted when politicians saw the world through rose-colored glasses. It means that free health care is being replaced by managed health care....

Since the story takes place in Massachusetts, I wonder exactly how Medicaid, or free care, would have helped Tennessee, an indigent black woman. Of course, her legal identity concerns hits the ball right out of the park.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

I think the idea of the racial conflict that does not exist in this story is that it would have detracted from the main conflicts that are presented- interesting though, that our background knowledge and the experiences we bring to the novel fill in the gaps for us.

Such a great discussion here- I think the whole idea of "identity" is at issue - anyone care to expound?
Stephanie
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IBIS
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Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Welcome from your moderator



Stephanie wrote:
Such a great discussion here- I think the whole idea of "identity" is at issue - anyone care to expound?




Exactly right, identity is a major theme that runs (pun unintended) through RUN: personal, public, secret, false and assumed. Even the identities of the dead, like Bernadette and Sullivan's dead girlfriend, play a part in the evolving identities of the living.

There is Doyle's public identity as an ex-mayor. His political identity as a rising political figure, and his private wishes that Tip would follow in his footsteps, makes him drag the boys to lectures like Jesse Jackson's. Now that his political career has been ended, sunk by the scandal of Sullivan's car accident, Doyle is merely a private citizen.

There is the assumed and secret identity of Tennesee Moser. Who is she really? Closely related to that is Kenya's identity -- Tennesee's assumed identity creates a false one for Kenya. Kenya believes that as Tennessee's biological daughter, she is a blood relative of both Tip and Teddy.

In turn, Tip and Teddy, will continue to believe that Kenya is their biological sister. That will reshape their own identities as Doyle's adopted sons.

Part of the answer that Patchett's poses is at the end of the novel, when Tip graduates with his medical degree, primarily to please Doyle's expectations. But secretly he reveals that he plans to return to his fishes.... that's what he truly identifies with.

The wishes and the expectations of others, our skin color, or even what we look like... none of those are proxies of who we really are.

Our true identities are what we truly believe to be within ourselves.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
Posts: 2,613
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Welcome from your moderator

IBIS,

You're such an astute reader- you certainly can see far into the depths of the novel.

I love your line: "The wishes and the expectations of others, our skin color, or even what we look like... none of those are proxies of who we really are."
Stephanie
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