Anasazi Runner: a novel of identity and speed by Jeff Posey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I really wanted to like this book, but there were a few things about it that really didn't jive with me.
Being a runner, it was difficult for me to imagine the paces being described in this book. Granted the author even admits it being a stretch, so I really shouldn't hold that against the book. While lofty running goals are an underlying, recurrent theme of the book, there is a lot more to the story. It's about a runner trying to find himself and his place in the world and his interactions with those closest to him - his girlfriend and running coach.
The story is told through the voice of Sean's running coach. After finishing the story, it makes sense that it is told through the voice of an outsider (that's all I'm going to say about that, so as not to spoil the ending), but it was very difficult for me to get through most of the time. The main characters, Sean and Kira, are of Native American descent, and Coach J is not. Throughout the book, there are many comments made about him being an "old, white guy." I understand that, being white, he probably doesn't understand many native traditions and ways of thinking, but references such as this really did not sit well with me. It seemed distasteful. I suppose it might not be too far from accurate, but I just didn't like it.
I also didn't like the relationship that developed between Coach J and Kira. He eventually comes to think of her as a granddaughter, but there were too many descriptions of their interactions together that made him seem more like just a creepy old man lusting after a young Navajo woman. I felt that their speech and mannerisms just got a bit too intimate for my liking.
If you can get past those few shortcomings (in my opinion), it was kind of a fascinating story. Sean sets forth a goal to win the NY Marathon, seeks the help from a former, now retired, high school track coach. Prior to setting out to accomplish this, he had always come in 11th in all his races. He didn't seem destined to be a winner, but as the story unfolds, we learn more about his journey to not only win but also to find himself.
I think this book had a lot of potential. The overall story was good with just enough complexities to keep you interested, but it could have been developed better. The stories of the characters were interesting, but I wasn't able to fully connect with them. I mostly felt frustration toward them through most of the book instead of the range of emotions you generally want to feel.
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