Read Girl Runner: A Novel by Carrie Snyder Online


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 beginsGirl 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.Without revealing who they are, or what they may want from her, the visitors take Aganetha on an outing from the nursing home. As ready as ever for adventure, Aganetha's memories are stirred when the pair return her to the family farm where she was raised. The devastation of WWI and the Spanish flu epidemic, the optimism of the 1920s and the sacrifices of the 1930s play out in Aganetha's mind, as she wrestles with the confusion and displacement of the present.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....

Title : Girl Runner: A Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062336040
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Girl Runner: A Novel Reviews

  • Melinda
    2019-04-20 23:16

    Snyder demonstrates creativity as well as polished writing. Significant narrative for a debut benchmark.I was drawn to Aggie’s independence, her groundbreaking achievement and her desire for more when the era was limited to women. Despite her age, Aggie is witty, plucky and hearty. Her memory and losses are tearful, as she revisits her tormented past.I was under the impression we would read of Aggie’s trials and tribulations of her Olympic experience and success, instead the book only skimmed the surface of this aspect. Describing the many challenges female athletes faced during this time period was glossed over, however, Aggie’s problem riddled personal and family issues monopolized attention as she flashes back to her painful history. Her resilience is inspiring, her escape mechanism running. The narrative is somewhat disincentive, never reaching its impetus with all its potential.Snyder skillfully addresses life after glory, redemption, dreams and failures. Focusing on public and private uneasiness through a memorable character. Entertaining read.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-04-10 02:08

    Just by coincidence, this was the third novel narrated by an elderly woman I’d read in a short span of time, after As We Are Now and The Stone Angel. This has an especially strong crossover with the latter, considering the way that in every chapter the very old woman’s present makes way for intense memories from her past. Aganetha Smart, 104, is “borrowed” from her nursing home by a teenage boy and girl, Max and Kaley. Kaley is a marathon runner making a documentary about the people who have influenced her, and Aggie is one of her heroes. She was among the first women to compete in Olympic track and field events at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam and won gold for Canada.I enjoyed these present-day sections more than the flashbacks, which, apart from Aggie’s time training with the Rosebud Confectionary girls’ athletic club in Toronto, are overwhelmingly miserable. She comes from a large family of full and half-siblings in rural Canada, many of whom die young. One drowns, one dies in World War I, one gets the flu. The book’s many deaths are also chronicled through one-paragraph notices – presumably ones that Aggie writes herself after she’s moved from the crime beat to the obituaries section of the newspaper where she works after leaving factory life behind.The novel does end on a good surprise note that contradicts the centenarian’s feelings of having no family left, but it was a bit of a slog to get there. I didn’t sense an overall arc to Aggie’s story, which emerges in random spurts and not always in chronological order. However, I did like the passages about running itself and the joy and freedom she gained from it.I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway.

  • MaryannC.Book Fiend
    2019-04-08 05:08

    As another reader mentioned, yes, this was a complex read. It was hard for me to get into at first, not for lack of interest just that the almost somberness of it was hard to get into. I thought it was a sad read as well, an elderly woman who looks back on her life, her achievement and her loved ones who are no longer present in this world.

  • Petra
    2019-03-24 04:29

    Well, that’s not what I expected or what the blurb said. One would expect a novel of women breaking into the Olympics and the trials, tribulations, hard work, etc. that is entailed in all of that. However, this is Aganetha’s personal story and there’s nothing new in the pages. It’s a classic story, told many times already.Had the author not foreshadowed (heavily & obviously) upcoming events, the story would have held some interesting surprises but, as written, the reader knows the surprises long before they are revealed. Aganetha’s story is told in the present with flashbacks to the events being referred to. The events are vaguely described and without detail. One is not really pulled into the lives of these people. It’s rather surface details; nothing deep. The foreshadowing is told in the “present” section of the chapter, so when the flashback occurs, we kind of already know the story. The “surprise” left for the end, was obvious about half way through the book. The “surprise” ending was suddenly told in detail; very different than the rest of the vaguely told story. The ending was problematic for me in terms of pretty much everything. Without spoiling anything, this ending would have occurred without the story having happened. (that’s probably more of a mystery than anything that actually happened in the book)In the end, I asked myself what the point of the story might have been. There’s no tension, no surprises, vaguely detailed, many sad events and a pretty typical story and no resolution that wouldn’t have occurred anyway. A pleasant enough, easy read if you want a quick read but not more than that. For that 2-stars, because as a story, it’s “okay”.

  • Leylak Dalı
    2019-04-20 04:21

    Yılın 100. kitabı bir solukta bitti, bu aralar okuduğum en iyi kitaptı. Alef süper yayınevi, ilgilenin derim, hem kitapla, hem yayıneviyle...

  • Suze Lavender
    2019-03-25 02:13

    Aganetha Smart is 104 years old. She lives in a nursing home and is completely dependent on others. She thinks she has nobody left, but then two young people pick her up for an outing. They're making a documentary, so they're filming her and they're taking her to her childhood home. During the trip all kinds of memories of the past come to the surface. Aganetha used to be a famous runner who won a gold Olympic medal. Joining the Canadian women's running team was the highlight of her running days, but it was also a difficult time in her life. As a rural girl in the big city she had a lot to discover and some lessons she had to learn the hard way. She's survived everyone she knew and the question is why the two young people are showing an interest in her all of a suddenGirl Runner is a beautiful story about a talented woman. Aganetha grew up on a farm. She moved to the city when she was old enough to work. Life on the farm wasn't always easy and her family knew some big tragedies. She had the freedom to run how far she wanted to though and she could beat everyone in the village. City life is different and Aganetha has to grow up pretty fast. She can be a bit naïve and I felt bad for her at times. I wanted her to have a happy and carefree time, but many emotional situations kept getting in her way. Aganetha has an interesting history, but certainly not an easy one. Even though she won an important gold medal she didn't really win in life.It was great to read about the running and to find out how it felt for Aganetha. Her legs can take her wherever she wants to go. I enjoyed reading about that freedom. However, she also has to deal with work and relationships. She struggles with the same things a lot of girls her age in that time struggled with. Some of the scenes were heartbreaking and Carrie Snyder is good at portraying emotions. I love her writing style, it has an easy flow and I liked the way she mixes the past with the present. She writes vividly and paints a clear picture of Aganetha and everything she went through. The story has a lot of interesting twists and turns and it shows that love can come in many different ways. I enjoyed reading this wonderful story very much.

  • Tara Chevrestt
    2019-04-07 06:29

    1928 Amsterdam. The first Olympics at which female athletes are permitted to compete in track and field events.That sentence right there says I should have loved this book. And that bit was interesting. I loved reading about the race, the hoopla after, about how it was determined the race was too hard for women merely because (just like some of the men) the lady winner falls to the ground when it's over. She's tired, overwhelmed with emotions...whatever. People read things into it.Sadly, the Olympic race takes a mere two pages. The aftermath a few more pages. Training? Barely mentioned. We know what she wore, that she rain around a track with a lady named Glad for two years, by a factory. We know chocolate people sponsored it. And frankly, that's it.This book isn't so much about a woman running in the Olympics but a dysfunctional family. About Edith, Olive, George, Robbies dying, a dad obsessed with woodwork, a mother midwife, and dead siblings seen through walls. It's weird and uninteresting. I got tired of it. I really didn't care about this heroine's childhood on a farm in Canada, about Edith, or graveyards full of little Smarts.I was so bored I abandoned this one at 54%. The Olympics were over.The modern bits were not the least appealing either, as this ridiculous girl old-people-naps Ms. Smart from a nursing home. Lots of rambling and uninteresting memories as they get stuck in the mud and all.Full review and final thoughts:

  • Clare
    2019-03-26 01:19

    Far more complex than I imagined -- a gorgeous piece of writing. There are many stories told here about women's history in areas of family, health, work, sport, and so on. Aganetha Smart is a wonderful main character. I might have more to say about this after a second read, but I want to sit with it for awhile.

  • Nereia
    2019-04-09 22:28

    «Se credi di essere stata ferita, poi capisci che il dolore è superficiale. E se ne è già andato. Si chiama guarigione, la riconosco da come corro. Sotto ogni strato di dolore c'è uno strato di guarigione in attesa, la verità dolce, sempre sorprendente, della resistenza».Girl runner non poteva non piacermi, era praticamente impossibile che mi risultasse indifferente. Io non corro, è vero, e non potrei mai correre perché, semplicemente, sono la persona più pigra al mondo. Ma so cosa vuol dire affrontare le emozioni in un certo modo, affrontarle con tutto il corpo, investendole e passandoci attraverso.Aganetha, protagonista di questo romanzo, corre. Corre perché non sa vivere altrimenti. Corre così velocemente da superare i coetanei di sesso maschile. Corre per fuggire a tutto ciò che non le piace. Corre senza meta e lo fa per dimenticare. Corre per guarire. Corre per reagire quando tutto sembra andare per il verso sbagliato. Io non corro, ma cammino. Cammino senza meta per chilometri e chilometri senza fermarmi mai, con l'unico obiettivo di svuotarmi dalle emozioni negative. Cammino con la pioggia, con il vento tagliente sul viso, con il caldo afoso. Questo è l'unico modo che conosco per guarire completamente, ed è proprio vero ciò che dice Aganetha: la guarigione la riconosci mentre stai correndo (o camminando). Sotto ogni strato di dolore c'è uno strato di guarigione in attesa e l'unico modo che Aganetha conosce per farlo uscire fuori è correre.È il 1928. Le donne, per la prima volta nella storia, sono ammesse a competere nelle gare di atletica leggera alle Olimpiadi di Amsterdam. Molte saranno le ragazze che, durante la IX Olimpiade, si aggiudicheranno una medaglia per diverse discipline e una tra tutte sarà proprio Aganetha, medaglia d'oro per il Canada. Un oro che sarà fonte di gioie, tantissime gioie, ma anche di immensi dolori. Perché Aggie, questo il soprannome con cui i famigliari la chiamano affettuosamente, non è che una ragazzina qualunque, cresciuta in una fattoria dell'Ontario con una famiglia complicata alle spalle. Una madre spesso un po' scostante, un padre affettuoso ma distante, un rapporto controverso con i fratelli e le sorelle, soprattutto con la sorellastra Edith. E poi il lavoro in una fabbrica e l'allenamento per la corsa degli ottocento metri e l'amicizia con quella ragazza, bella ma forse un po' viziata, Glad. Un'amicizia che spesso, purtroppo, viene sopraffatta dalla competizione e dalle gelosie. Uno dei rapporti più duraturi e profondi nella vita di Aganetha perché fatto non solo di amicizia ma anche, e soprattutto, di condivisione. Un rapporto, per certi versi, esclusivo ma anche impari. Un'amicizia che le darà tantissimo e la farà crescere, ma che le toglierà altrettante cose. Un rapporto al quale Aggie guarda con malinconia e un certo senso di rassegnazione, ma mai con autocommiserazione.Corre Aganetha, corre così velocemente che strappa l'oro alle altre ragazze in pista, soffiandolo persino alla tedesca che corre a perdifiato a soli pochi centimetri da lei.Ed è Aganetha la voce narrante del romanzo, una voce che ci racconta la corsa durata una vita, una vita diventata come tante dopo che il fuoco fatuo della vittoria si è spento. Un racconto che spazia tra il presente, nel quale Aggie ha 104 anni ed è rinchiusa in una casa di riposo, e il passato, fatto di tante perdite, altrettante rinunce, ma moltissime guarigioni.Un racconto che Aggie rivive in parte nella sua mente e in parte ad alta voce durante una strana visita alla casa di riposo: due giovani, Kaley e Max, sono andati a trovarla e vogliono portarla da qualche parte. Con qualche difficoltà riescono a caricarla in macchina e sfrecciano via, quando il racconto di una vita vissuta ha inizio. Ma chi sono Kaley e Max e cosa vogliono da lei? Perché vogliono farle rivivere emozioni e sentimenti che lei credeva sepolti?I continui salti temporali, i necrologi, il racconto spezzettato di diversi periodi della vita di Aganetha sembra seguano il ritmo di una corsa di riscaldamento, come se Aggie fosse sempre lì, in agguato, pronta per lo scatto finale.«Accetto il mio corpo abbastanza da riconoscere i suoi limiti, e questa sedia a rotelle è solo il punto più basso in una lunga linea discendente. Non corri più come correvi da bambina, senza dolore. In seguito, raggiungi un punto in cui corri più veloce che mai – la vetta che al momento non riconosci. Ricordo che sussurravo la parola indistruttibile mentre correvo o quando sentivo arrivare un grande dolore, ma lo ripetevo solo perché sapevo di non esserlo. Non ho mai corso perché ero forte, se capite cosa intendo. Non era la forza che mi rendeva un'atleta, era il desiderio di essere forte. Correvo per coraggio. Lo faccio ancora, anche se è solo nella mia mente».E mentre sei lì che leggi la sua storia, raccontata attraverso le sue parole, non puoi che fare il tifo per lei e sussurrare tra te e te: "Corri Aganetha, continua a correre. Non fermarti mai".Recensione tratta dal mio blog.

  • Erin
    2019-04-12 03:25

    There was a lot to recommend *Girl Runner* by the Canadian Carrie Snyder. A book about a trailblazing (sometimes literally) young woman who runs for Canada in the 1928 Olympics and wins the gold. Themes that are appealing to this young-ish feminist and runner: woman makes her own decisions even if they are unpopular, woman defies supposed limitations imagined by men, woman runs because it’s the only way to feel calm and centred.And yet. Elements of this book that didn’t need to be there, were, and so were distracting and frustrating. Agathena, our protagonist, (fictional, not the historically accurate Olympian) ought to be a lesbian. The novel flirts and skirts with this idea, but ultimately – and frustratingly and disappointingly – sees her “fall in love” with a man and the pleasure his body offers her. I actually put the book down when – in the space between one chapter ending and the next beginning – Agathena moved from loving her training partner to loving this parachuted in man (okay, sure, the novel doesn’t explicitly come out and say as much but every moment between them is pregnant with lust and love and there are several indirect conversations that make their love, “quivering” (a too often used word choice) beneath the surface apparent to all but the least attentive reader). Most frustrating because it not only because the narrative elements (foreshadowing and images and the whatnot) didn’t support it, but because it took what was, until that point, an utterly compelling plot unfolding around a woman’s desires, choices (and lack of) and ambitions and made it about how she does or doesn’t deserve this man. Baffling.Then there was this sort of is-it-a-mystery-isnt-it element that was similarly confusing as to its purpose. Call it a classic case of the form being out of joint with the content. Agathena gets pregnant. Her mother, a ‘backwoods’ midwife/abortionist delivers the baby and, in secret, gives it to Agathena’s (barren) sister to raise. This plot line is *supposed* to be a mystery only revealed in the last climactic moments. But it’s not a mystery. This reader – again in the gap between one chapter ending and the next beginning – made the logical leap. When you end a chapter with the protagonist alone, trying to decide what to do with her baby, you ought to expect the reader will entertain – and project forward – both options. Totally willing (and able) to keep both potential plot lines in my head while I keep reading to determine what she might have done. So it was no surprise as the “foreshadowed” and dropped hints emerged suggesting that she’d had the baby. Not much detective work to connect it to the sister. For this reader the quasi-mystery just made me wonder why it was meant to be mysterious. What thematic benefit was gained in withholding this element? As far as I can tell its only purpose served to present the climax, which wasn’t climactic.All this to say this novel had incredible potential. Creative exploration of women in sport, women’s historical development of control of their bodies [Agathena is something like 100 years old, so we really do get the broad swath of time], the role of friendship and maternity in shaping identity… And I’d still suggest reading it if you were doing your Can Lit comps and wanted something to do with sport and abortions. I guess.

  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    2019-04-13 23:27

    My Review: This book is a fictional story about a trailblazing young female Canadian runner in the early 20th century and was inspired by Canada's own 'Matchless Six' (the Canadian female athletes who successfully competed in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics). I loved learning more about the history of women in the Olympics and the struggles that these women went through in order to be able to compete on the world stage but I didn't feel that the underlying personal story of Aganetha's life was as interesting.Aganetha was a unique character and I enjoyed getting a look into 104 year old Aggie's mind set as she struggled to communicate and make sense of what was happening around her. But I quickly learned that the overall story was less about the female runner and more about her dysfunctional family life, her familial loss and friendships. And while I loved that the book had a Canadian setting, it felt like the links between the modern day story line and the the story line from the past were often jumbled and didn't transition smoothly.I liked Aggie but I didn't feel any connection to other characters. For example, I wasn't sure how I was supposed to react to Kaley's character. Was the reader supposed to feel sympathetic to her plight? I couldn't muster up any sympathy and instead kept seeing her as a sneaky gold digger. Also, from personal history with my own grandmothers, I couldn't see any nursing home allowing just anyone to wheel out a patient without showing any identification.What I will take away from this book is a better understanding of how things were for female athletes in the early 20th century as well as the early struggles of women to gain control over their own bodies. Unfortunately I wasn't as engaged in Aggie's life as I would have hoped and with the addition of the modern day story line I can't say that I loved this book.My Rating: 2.5/5 stars** This book review, as well as hundreds more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm ( where I also share my 'tried and true' recipes. **

  • Michael
    2019-03-23 00:09

    This review was published in the 11/1/14 edition of Library Journal:Canadian author Snyder (The Juliet Stories) opens her novel in a nursing home, where 104-year-old Aganetha Smart, a former Olympian runner long forgotten, lives out the rest of her days until a young couple appears for an unannounced visit. Telling the staff they're making a film about female athletes, the two strangers instead take Aggie on a mysterious journey that jars loose a flood of memories that are revealed unsequentially but add up to a rich life filled with exhilaration—winning a gold medal for Canada in 1928, the first year women were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games—and unspeakable sadness: one by one, she has lost her extensive family to wars, illnesses, estrangement, and, finally, old age, bringing into sharp focus the pain she had been running from. VERDICT Snyder's well-crafted meditation on aging and loss sometimes feels burdened by the ghosts of Aggie's past to truly reach full sprint, but her inspirational protagonist pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable for women in the first half of the 20th century makes this novel a winner.Copyright ©2014 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

  • Anne(Booklady) Molinarolo
    2019-04-09 01:26

    I thought Girl Runner by Canadian author Carrie Snyder would focus more on "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." I believed the blurb, but alas, the novel was more about Aggie's trials, tribulations, and losses in her life.I dare say if one had that many losses and bad stuff in his/her life, one would go completely bonkers. Thank goodness Aggie's escape mechanism was running. What could have been a beautiful historical novel became tedious. The prose was so, so. Was really disappointed with this one.

  • Jenny Kim
    2019-03-28 03:08

    This book was not what I expected based on the synopsis. I was expecting an inspirational read of a female athlete, a sport-biography of Aganetha Smart (Aggie) who won gold in 1928 Olympic at Amsterdam.In reality this book was about Aggie’s family: the secrets, the tragedies, the lies and betrayals and estrangements…and her relationship with Glad, a fellow runner and friend.The writing was good but dry, nothing special and definitely not engaging. I think the author missed a wonderful opportunity to tell a story of a female Olympian.

  • Tracy Morton
    2019-03-24 01:21

    This book was alright. I read it because it is being read as a library system wide book club and I wanted to be able to talk to patrons if they start a conversation. I didn't love it but I did like it. It jumps between several time periods of a character's life but is still easy to follow. The characters were fairly interesting. I like the more "scandalous" parts the best.

  • Wedma
    2019-03-26 01:37

    Aganetha Smarts Lebensgeschichte kann damals wie heute als nicht konventionell gelten.Es ist Geschichte einer jungen Frau aus einfachen Verhältnissen, die kaum Selbstinszenierung und Eitelkeit von Kindesbeinen an in ihrer Bauernfamilie gelernt hat, was für ein dauerhaft erfolgreiches Leben in der Öffentlichkeit als It-girl nach ihrem ersten großen Erfolg nötig gewesen wäre.Die Handlung ist auf zwei Ebenen angesiedelt. Den größten Teil des Romans, schätzungsweise 4/5, nimmt die Geschichte von der jungen Aganetha Smart und ihrer Familie in der Vergangenheit. Im Grunde besteht der Roman aus Rückblenden, die hin und wieder durch Szenen in der Gegenwart durchwirkt sind, und erklären, wie es zu der Situation gekommen ist, die man im Heute präsentiert bekommt. Man trifft die 104-jährige Miss Smart im Pflegeheim. Sie wirkt sympathisch: humorig, leicht bissig, eine geübte Beobachterin, die das Handeln der Menschen aufgrund ihrer Lebenserfahrung gut einschätzen kann und ihre Meinung dem Leser unvermittelt liefert. Ihre philosophischen Ausführungen zum Thema Lüge beispielsweise sind schon recht spannend und zeugen von ihrem klaren Verstand und ihrer profunden Menschenkenntnis. Eines Tages wird sie von zwei jungen Menschen abgeholt, die einen Film über sie drehen wollen. Lange versteht man nicht so recht, warum sie das tun wollen, denn der Grund, der anfangs genannt wird, kommt einem recht fadenscheinig vor. Aganethas großer Erfolg liegt bereits über 80 Jahre zurück. Erst zum Schlusss eröffnet sich das "große Geheimnis".Die Rückblenden sind sehr schön und bildhaft geschrieben. Man fühlt sich in die damalige Zeit versetzt, Aggie war 1908 geboren, und hat keine Probleme die Welt mit den Augen der anfangs 9-Jährigen Aggie zu sehen. Der Besuch der Gräber am Friedhof zusammen mit der 22-jährigen Halbschwester wirkt schon fast poetisch und erzählt eine traurige Familiengeschichte. Vor dem Text gibt es übrigens einen Genealogiebaum der Familie Smart, der sich als sehr hilfreich bei den Ausführungen der Familienverhältnisse erweist.Der Erzählstrang in der Gegenwart ist in Ich-Form verfasst. Das passt sehr gut, schafft so eine Nähe zu der 104-Jährigen Miss Smart, dass man ihr alles abnehmen kann. Auch dass ihre Erinnerungen rein assoziativ und ganz plötzlich einsetzen, nicht immer chronologisch, und erzählen die eine oder andere Episode aus ihrem Leben als junge und später 40-Jährige Frau. Man begleitet Aggie bei ihrem Lauftraining, beim neuen Leben in der Stadt und bei ihrem großen Erfolg. Es wird einem auch glasklar, was es heißt, so alt zu werden, welche psychische Belastung es ist, alle verloren zu haben, die man je geliebt hat, und welche physische Belastung man sich selbst und den Pflegern ist, i.e. man ist ständig auf fremde Hilfe angewiesen, selbst beim Teetrinken, denn der Körper macht nicht mehr viel mit. Rollstuhl ist die gängige Möglichkeit der Fortbewegung, am besten wenn jemand diesen rollt.Das Laufen als Prozess, als Form des Daseins samt all den Empfindungen dabei, ist sehr plastisch beschrieben. Da gibt es an mehreren Stellen schöne Zeilen dazu, sodass man die Laufschuhe festschnüren und selbst gleich loslaufen will. "Ich finde nicht in meinen Körper; es ist ein einziger Kampf. Ich treibe haltlos dahin Treibe dem Verschwinden entgegen.Außer beim Laufen. Wenn ich laufe, bin ich zugleich in meinem Körper und außerhalb. Ich spüre diese extremsten körperlichen Anstrengungen, während ich gleichzeitig völlig frei fühle, als flöge ich auf und davon. Ich will ich nicht daran erinnern, was mir passiert ist. Ich will nicht über die Vergangenheit nachdenken. Ich kann es in gewisser Weise gar nicht. Ich bin für Reue nicht geschaffen." S. 269.Besonders die Freundschaft von Aggie und Glad, ihrer Mitstreiterin auf der Laufbahn und später auch in anderen Bereichen des jungen Lebens, hat einen großen Raum eingenommen. Diese Freundschaft zweier Rivalinnen ist psychologisch tief und einfühlsam dargelegt worden, wobei es nie ins Pathetische rutscht und eher bei nüchternen Darstellungen bleibt. Der Kontrast der Persönlichkeiten lässt Aggies Charakter umso deutlicher erscheinen und stimmt nachdenklich. Man fragt sich, lautet die Botschaft in etwa: Nicht der/die technisch, fachlich Bessere auf lange Sicht gewinnt, sondern der/diejenige, der/die mehr soziale Kompetenz wie Hartnäckigkeit und Ausdauer an den Tag legt? Und/oder auch: Wenn jemand nicht von der Persöhnlichkeit her es mitbringt, der kann nicht dauerhaft erfolgreich bleiben, zumindest in dem Sinne, wie die breite Masse den Begriff Erfolg begreift?Auch Fragen der Identität und der Treue zu sich selbst sind eingehend an Aggies Beispiel/Ausführungen behandelt worden.  Mir schwant, Aggies Geschichte ist auch eine Art Studie zum Thema, was passiert, wenn jemanden, der gar nicht auf viel Aufmerksamkeit vorbereitet ist und sonst keine Lust hat im Trubel der Eitelkeiten mitzuspielen, der große Erfolgt trifft.Auch Themen wie Leben, Sterben, ein Kind zur Welt bringen, Familienleben, Verantwortung, Freundschaft, Liebe, Erfolg sind ein fester Bestandteil dieses Romans und sind auf eine nicht-triviale Art und Weise dargeboten worden.Frauendiskriminierung und Frauenausbeutung ist hier auch ein Thema, das in diesem Roman insb. im letzten Drittel deutlich wird. Im Nachwort liest man: "Nur damit niemand glaubt, Diskriminierung im Laufsport gäbe es heute nicht mehr: im Jahr 2011 verfügte der Weltleichtathletikverband, dass offizielle Rekorde von Frauen nur in reinen Frauen-Laufwettkämpfen aufgestellt werden können. Damit soll verhindert werden, dass Frauen mit schnelleren Tempomachern laufen ...Durch die neue Regelung wurden zuvor von Frauen in gemischten Laufwettkämpfen aufgestellte Rekorde ungültig."S. 346.Nach der Sportkarriere muss Aggie ihren Platz in der Redaktion räumen: "Der unausgesprochene Grund ist das Jahr: 1945. Das Kriegsende und damit die Menge tapferer junger Männer, die nach Hause kommen und ihre Stellen von Frauen wie mir besetzt finden. Sollte ich da nicht schleunigst das Richtige tun und beiseitetreten, um einem Ernährer Platz zu machen? Ich kann noch von Glück sagen, dass man mich nicht einfach vor die Tür setzt. Auf die ich jetzt zumarschiere, Schaum vorm Mund. Ich muss dringend laufen gehen." S. 289. Auch das Bild von Aggies Mutter, die als Heilpraktikerin und Hebamme im Dorf tätig ist, liefert Beispiele dafür. Zu ihr kommen oft genug Mädchen, die sich von den Männerversprechungen leiten ließen und nun doch nicht geehlicht wurden."Ich habe nachgedacht über den Erfolg, Miss Gibb. Was macht ...eine große Sportlerin aus?"S. 297. Das scheint die Frage zu sein, auf deren Antwort Aggies Sportkarriere hinausläuft. Wohl kaum nur das Talent, die schnellen Beine, die Physis. Bei den Zutaten ist das Wichtigste nicht dabei, auch hier nocht: "Irgendwie ging es nie weg - das Verlangen zu konkurrieren, gegen andere anzutreten, zu gewinnen oder zu verlieren, Teil eines Rhythmus zu sein, der größer ist als ich. Eines ganzen Felds von Anstrengung und Verausgabung." S 309.Die Geschichte hat auch eine zutiefst tragische Seite, wenn man an Tattie, Aggies Schwägerin, denkt. Da taucht die Frage auf: wie viel Unheil, dass man nie wieder gutmachen kann, durch menschliche Kälte und Gleichgültigkeit entsteht.Die Überraschung zum Schluss kommt nicht zu kurz, wobei es sehr nah an Leser-hinters-Licht-führen kommt. Einige Seiten zuvor wurde in diesem Zusammenhang etwas ganz anderes erklärt, was falschen Schluss ziehen lässt.Was ich weniger gut fand:Die Infoversorgung erschien mir mancherorts suboptimal: Der 104-jährige Aggie wird erzählt, was sie schon weiß und zuvor ihre Meinung dazu abgegeben hat.Die Handlung in der Gegenwart ist recht begrenzt.Der Spannungsbogen konnte nicht überall aufrechterhalten werden. Einige Durchhänger ließen mich das Buch beiseitelegen.Sonst ist der Schluss sehr gut: stimmig, atmosphärisch, berührend.Fazit: Ein gelungener Roman über eine Frau, die konsequent ihren Weg ging.

  • Krista
    2019-04-17 05:16

    Girl Runner is the story of Aganetha (Aggie) Smart, a gold medal Olympic runner, who at 104 years old, is essentially abducted from her nursing home by a young man and woman who say they would like to make a movie of her life, and enjoying the lark, Aggie goes along, awash in memories as she is brought to confront her own past. Where this book excels is in the writing about running and training and the Olympic experience, but where it falls flat is in execution.I tend to enjoy books with jumbled up timelines -- they can create tension and mystery as we see the aftermath before the catalyst -- but too often here, the device felt deliberate and clumsy. For example, at the Olympics -- which, although placed halfway through the book, does serve as a climax -- I had no clue in what order the races were run. It wasn't until much later that I understood whether Glad had competed in the 100m before or after the 800m, and that order rather mattered to the plot and her relationship with Aggie (and the effect was lack of clarity, not tension). It honestly felt as though author Carrie Snyder wrote out the story in a linear fashion and then cut and pasted to jumble it all up.But, much of the writing was lovely. I especially liked Aggie's childhood on the farm and her relationships within her large and complicated family. One particular standout scene has Aggie climbing to the roof of the barn where, after ensuring everyone could see she was there, the young girl began to spin and jump, one sister cowering with her apron over her head, too afraid to look, and her mother scrambling up an apple tree, as if she could somehow intervene from there. Thinks Aggie afterwards:They think I've risked everything for a foolish show-off game. They don't understand what I'm doing. The problem will persist. There is life, as I see it, going on all around me, terrible in its uncertainty, frightening even. And there is me, as I see myself, preparing, practising, anticipating a series of performances whose timing and discipline I can't predict in advance but must be ready for at all times.Inspired by Canada’s “Matchless Six" -- women who were sent to successfully compete in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics -- the historical setting of Girl Runner could have been made better use of: everything about that Olympics was really well done, but with a main character who is 104, much that she lives through is just briefly alluded to: a brother fights in WWI; a sister catches "some flu" (which one supposes is the Spanish Influenza); the stockmarket crashes, so a training center is closed; a nephew looks like a little soldier (and a throwaway sentence about his stint in WWII is the only mention made of that war until it was over and the men returned, wanting their jobs back)…and nothing of historical importance happens for the next 70 years. Again, this felt really clumsy to me: if you don't want to write about world events, it's better not to mention them at all. As for the treatment of women at the Olympics -- that is an interesting topic. The 800m race was the longest distance permitted for women in 1928, and after it was over, the officials declared that it was unsuitable for the delicate female constitution and it was removed -- not to be reinstated as an event until 1960. I didn't realise that women weren't allowed to participate in the Olympic marathon until 1984; this was where the meat of the story should have come from. As Snyder says in the Author's Note:(W)hy I chose to write about the subject in fictional form; when I consider these issues in any other way, steam comes out of my ears. And steam coming out of one's ears makes for an argument undercut by its own stridency.But this stridency shows itself a wee bit, with gender inequality given a few heavy-handed scenes. When the girls find out that their midwife mother offers other services to pregnant girls, Aggie concludes:We can do nothing more…The distant smell of acrid smoke knows it: a summons from the burnt-up crumb cakes in the oven, which beg watching by the girls who bake them, for it is never boys who bake cakes.Yes, yes, boys don't bake cakes because they don't have uteruses, so that puts a heavier burden on the girls, but what really exasperated me about that conclusion was the fact that there were no boys left at home to watch the baking cakes -- and I know that sounds like I'm taking it literally, but it's just this imperfect metaphor trying to sound clever. Or in another scene, with Aggie talking with an old school chum:We are both aged forty-four years, but do not imagine we are judged the same -- he is a man and I am a woman, and the year is 1952.That was apropos of nothing, and therefore jolting to me, but the most annoying fact was that Snyder created some really great characters, put them in this interesting time that could have demonstrated any point she would have liked to make with them, but then oversalted the soup and left a bad taste in my mouth (and the Kaley subplot was totally unnecessary and unsurprising). If this book was terrible it wouldn't have bothered me so much, but because of the spoiled potential, this review might make Girl Runner sound worse than it is; read it and make up your own mind; it's worthwhile just to meet the incredible Miss Aganetha Smart.There's no starting this race over again. And still I run. I run and run, without rest, as if even now there is time and purpose and I will gain, at last -- before my spool of silence unwinds -- what I've yet to know.

  • Corinne Wasilewski
    2019-04-02 05:34

    Snyder writes beautifully. There's a wonderful rhythm to her work and I like the pace of her stories plus she's a wiz at characterization. Although the plot seemed a little forced at times, overall I enjoyed this novel very much.

  • Liz Maguire
    2019-04-15 05:09

    I cannot decide what I want to say first for Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder. I received a proof copy of the book in March, when the pub date was in February of this year. Before I get too swept up in anything, let me just say that Girl Runner is about 105 year old Aganetha Smart, the fictionalized gold medal winner of the gold medal in running for the Canadian women’s team at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. But Girl Runner is so much more. It’s told in first person as Aganetha is taken from her nursing home and brought back to the family ranch. Here we learn about her big, distended family with half siblings from her father’s first marriage and the dubious work Aganetha’s mother does for farm girls who need help. We learn why her father built a lighthouse in the middle of a field, and what Aganetha sees when her older sister Fannie begs her not to follow her into the fields one lazy, hot summer afternoon. Aganetha, remembering her life, tells the reader in beautiful simplicity of a life lived. Snyder’s writing is fresh and visual and organic in a way that I’ve been trying to compare it to something for days now. I want to say that Girl Runner tastes the same as something I’ve had before only I can’t name the thing exactly. From the first line I had this idea that Girl Runner reminded me of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg but because I’ve never read that book, only seen the movie, I can say it was one of the first things that popped into my brain while reading. While Fried Green Tomatoes is based in Alabama and Girl Runner is based in mostly Ontario, Canada. I suppose it was the vision I had, while reading, of the long legged but fast Aganetha Smart running down dirt roads in the high heat of summer. I suppose it could in a way be reminiscent of Forest Gump but really and truly, Girl Runner stands on its own. There were moments where I wanted to hold Aggie and where I wanted to scream or punch or kick but I didn’t — I let Aggie hold me, remind me that sometimes the hardest things in our lives are the moments when a friendship ends or when we see something we shouldn’t. Simultaneously Snyder writes as a grandmother type figure and as the wild, impetuous girl she always was and will always be. I wanted to be both Aggie’s friend and her family. I recommend this novel for anyone who appreciates talented story telling and beautiful language. You can find it at your local bookseller or online here. You can learn more about Carrie Snyder on her blog or by joining the conversation about Girl Runner on Twitter!

  • Jasbr
    2019-04-15 01:24

    Welche Frau liest nicht gerne Bücher über eine starke Frau? Das dachte ich mir, als ich dieses Buch zur Hand nahm.Die Geschichte handelt von Aganetha, die mittlerweile über 100 Jahre alt ist und im Altenheim ist. Doch ihr Leben war sehr aufregend und bewegend. Sie gewann als erste Frau olympisches Gold im 800 Meter-Lauf.Das Buch beginnt mit der Kindheit Aganethas. Schon hier wird klar, dass sie es nicht leicht hat. Denn die Familie musste schon viele Schicksalsschläge wegstecken. Doch Aggie macht erste Berührungen mit ihrem Hobby: Dem Laufen.Nach und nach taucht der Leser in das Leben von Aggie ein. Allerdings ist das Buch nicht chronologisch erzählt. Diese Sprünge waren für mich anfangs sehr verwirrend und ich musste mich erst daran gewöhnen. Das lag unter anderem auch daran, dass manchmal aus Dinge angespielt wird, die man als Leser noch gar nicht weiß. Und dann hatte ich immer das Gefühl, etwas überlesen zu haben. Auf der anderen Seite machte diese Form des Erzählens die Geschichte natürlich auch spannend. Außerdem gibt es immer wieder Blenden in die Gegenwart, also die Aggie von heute. Hier fand ich es wirklich beeindruckend, wie der "Verfall" der alten Dame geschildert wurde. Von der Olympionikin zur alten, fast blinden Dame im Rollstuhl.Das ganze Buch war einfach nur bewegend. Aganetha erlebt so viele Höhen und Tiefen. Sie verliert und überlebt so viele geliebte Menschen... ich habe beim Lesen richtig mitgefiebert.Die Sprache des Buches ist relativ frei von Emotionen. Es sind eher Schilderungen, wie man sie in Biografien vermutet. Der Schreibstil passt super zum Charakter der Protagonistin, die auch eher ruhig und gefasst ist.Ich war so in der Geschichte aufgegangen, dass ich wirklich dachte, es handelt sich um eine echte Lebensgeschichte. Erst durch das Nachwort wurde mir klar, dass es reine Fiktion war. Wenn ich ehrlich bin, hat mich das etwas enttäuscht :) Ich habe mich so verbunden mit Aggie gefühlt...Insgesamt ist das Buch wirklich toll, wenn auch nicht unbedingt leichte Kost. Weil ich manchmal ein paar Probleme hatte, die Sprünge in der Geschichte zu verankern, bekommt das Buch von mir 4 Sterne!

  • Brie
    2019-04-05 22:21

    I really wanted to like this book, but overall, I was pretty disappointed with it. For one thing, it took forever to get into it. I almost DNF'd it around 125 pages in, but since I owned the book, and since I hate giving up, I persevered. While it did get *better*, it's not a book that is going to stay with me, or be one that I will recommend to anyone to read. The story really jumps around, especially in the beginning, and with no dates or anything to tie into the timeline, I found it so confusing trying to figure out where we were. I found none of the characters that interesting which is saying a lot since the main character, Aggie, is one of the first women to compete in the Olympics in running. I mean, this SHOULD be a fascinating story. What I thought was going to be a story about running, and Aggie's Olympic experience, I found that to be too small a part of the book. Overall, it was a sad story, but not a very compelling, sad story. I was so glad when I finally read the last page.

  • Jacqueline (Fall In Love With The Sound of Words)
    2019-04-19 06:24

    Carrie Snyder has created a book that could quite possibly go down in history as a classic! I loved this book; from beginning to end, hence my five star review!Aganetha Smart has had her fair share of disappointments and tragedies in life, all of which has built her into a very strong individual. At a young age she discovered a skill in running. I say skill because its clear that this isn't merely a child able to run off abundant amounts of energy. She's faster than everyone; and at a time when girls were all to be dainty and inferior to boys, it didn't win her very many friends. I seriously give Aganetha, Aggie to her friends and family, props for sticking with her skill despite hardships! It carried her all the way to the 1928 Olympics, where she won a Gold in the very first Olympics that allowed woman to compete in track events.The book starts off with Aggie at 104 years old, having outlived everyone she has ever loved; now living in a nursing home. Two young individuals, a brother and a sister, come to 'visit' Aggie. They end up kidnapping her from the home proclaiming to want to tell Aggie's story; the girl is a runner herself, and claims to be making a video about what inspires her. However, it is clear early on that they have ulterior motives. Who are they? What do they want? You get little snip its of the present time as Aggie takes you through her past. By the time you find out what is really going on the twist is somewhat shocking and unexpected!I really loved this book, and Carrie Snyder might be one of my new favorite authors! I will definitely be keeping a look out for her books in the future!I received this book for free from The Reading Room in exchange for an honest review.

  • Mary-Elsie
    2019-04-06 06:34

    I loved this book! Although I can’t say that was the case from the beginning. Actually, in my first 80-90 pages with my “J” type personality (for those of you familiar with Myers Briggs), I kept thinking, “hmmm maybe a 2-3 rating for this one”. But the book changed my mind. I often have a bias to Canadian books and authors from the get-go, but I also appreciated how Carrie Snyder gives us insight into the early decades of the 1900s. I love it when books challenge me to consider the cultural limitations faced by women historically – many which take us by surprise. I especially enjoy the bliss of watching women overcome restrictions imposed by false assumptions. Many of the questions I asked through this book were introspective – and there were many. I didn’t put all the pieces together until the end. I was moved to experience emotional losses with the main character and was almost entrapped by her character flaws through the exquisite prose that describe life’s events. I especially enjoy books that stay with me for continued reflection. Girl Runner did that. I was tickled when reading the author’s notes at the back which gives credence to two women marathoners, who in 2013 broke the Canadian 28 year record. One of them I recognize! I boasted to my book club how I on one occasion ran with Krista DuChene! …I quickly admitted that in fact I didn’t really run “with” her but on the same road as her. Well in truth, across from her – going the other way. But she did wave to me as she passed me – and we were running at the same time! How’s that for a brush with fame?

  • Hester Maree
    2019-04-05 22:35

    At first I thought the book was about fictional Aganetha Smart's successes and achievements at Amsterdam's 1928 Olympics, where women were, for the first time, permitted to compete in track and field events. Only a few pages are dedicated to that.Aganetha Smart, or Aggie, lives in a nursing home and at one hundred-and-four, is still plucky and humerous, although less fiercely independent than in her younger years, as she must now receive care. Aggie, "girl runner", passionate, obsessive runner, runs because she loves it. She also runs to escape her own difficult life and strange, disturbing family, whom she has outlived, or so she thinks. One day she is fetched for an outing by two young people she doesn't, at first, know. I'd rather not divulge their identity. Suffice to say they take her to her childhood home, where memories of her sad and complex life come to her in flashbacks. The family cemetery, with its tombstone epitaphs, many written by Aggie, attest to the losses she experienced during her life.I enjoyed Aggie's character, especially her acrobatic antics on the barn roof - a funny and beautifully written scene - while her sister hides her face in her apron and her mother climbs an apple tree, as if that would help to be nearer her to block a fall. I felt empathy for her sadness and happiness for her successes.It's an unusual story, told in the first person, present tense - a little difficult to get into at first, but I was eager to see where it led.

  • Shilpa
    2019-03-25 23:11

    “All my life I’ve been going somewhere, aimed toward a fixed point horizon that never seems to draw nearer.”Aganetha Smart (Aggie) has led an extraordinary life. She is 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.Even now, confined to a wheelchair it seems that she is still running. Chasing and reflecting on a past that is laden with struggles, sacrifices, sadness and complex family relationships. “This is a graveyard of dead children, all boys, my half-brothers. I am relieved to have been born a girl.”In Girl Runner, Carrie Snyder proves that she is a master storyteller, revealing two stories in parallel, one post war and the other in the present day; both stories equally as compelling and relatable.“What do I know of war? I’ll never be a boy, never be a son. War is never going to be my way out.” Aggie reminds me of the protagonist from Emma Healey’s book Elizabeth Is Missing. Emma’s description of a woman dealing with Alzheimer’s is so engulfing and compelling that you form a strong connection to the character. In Girl Runner, Carrie Snyder does the same, building a wonderful story around a character who has lived a full life and even at 104 years still has not lost the spark in her. It is a book that is well-crafted, inspiring, and with a dash of sadness beneath the surface.Full review:

  • Emma
    2019-03-28 01:10

    Originally posted on have to admit when I first got this book I assumed it was non-fiction. I was quite surprised to find out it wasn’t but I enjoyed it anyway. It is quite similar to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man, we see Aganetha at the age of 104 looking back on her life. Though I think this novel is quite a bit more serious.This book is about running and the Olympics. The way the author writes about running is so lyrical it will make you want to go outside and run. But it is also about women’s rights and unwanted pregnancy. I have to admit when I got to the end of this book I refused to believe I was finished. It was a lovely book to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think everyone should read this.

  • Laurie
    2019-04-13 05:08

    I enjoyed this very much in the beginning, but after awhile the shifts from present day to the past began to irritate me. I found Aggie's obsession with running very realistic, especially the parts where she relates that she almost relishes the pain and discomfort. I have run enough in my life to know that runners don't always feel good when running, or even afterwards, but it can be something that you simply have to do anyway despite the pain.I guessed the secret revealed at the end much earlier, but I think the reader is meant to figure it out beforehand since there are several foreshadowing references. Even so, I thought the secret seemed fairly cliche so that is a large reason for my 3 star rating. So overall the story was fresh and interesting, but the end was a letdown.

  • Carole
    2019-04-07 01:12

    I really enjoyed this story of fictional character, Aganetha Smart, an Olympic champion for Canada in the 1928 games. The historical perspective on female athletes was very interesting and so was Aggie's personal story. She was a young girl who grew up on a farm in Ontario, moved to Toronto to work in a factory and was selected to train with the company's track team. The author uses Aganetha's memories as a 104 year old woman looking back on her life. The memories go back and forth in a not necessarily chronological manner as memories do and this structure allows the author to withhold important facts from the reader. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because I was able to figure out the main secret before the big reveal but overall, I thought that it was an excellent read.

  • Kerri
    2019-04-14 22:32

    Loved this book. Maybe it was the 880 runner in me who can't run now or that we had to fight to get letter jackets for girls during high school.Two quotes that captured it for me:"You never run again like you run as a child: without pain. Later, you reach a point at which you've run the fastest you will ever run-the pinnacle that goes unrecognized at the time. It wasn't strength that made me a runner, it was the desire to be strong." p. 137"This is what it (running) feels like: a catalogue of dull pain from ankle to shin to knee to hip to shoulder. The breath comes hard at first, rough, but will smooth into a rhythm. And when I've been running for a while, only then, the thoughts settle into sense." p. 237

  • Lynn
    2019-04-20 05:18

    I found this a bit of a struggle to be honest. Likened to Harold Fry but it certainly isn't anything like. I also thought the main character was a real person who won an Olympic medal and that the author had constructed her version of her story but it turns out that the gold medal was won by a completely different person. Not sure if I agree with meddling with real history, this probably won't bother others but I am a big athletics fan and it grated on me. Found it overlong too.