Blog Book Tour | “Girl Runner” by Carrie Snyder

Posted Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Girl Runner” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher HarperCollins Publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I grew up watching the Winter (Olympic) Games, whilst the Games themselves inspired me to correspond with other girls who lived overseas, as my original pen pals were sought through a friendship exchange linked to the Norwegian Games in the early 1990s. Those friendships dissolved in my early to mid twenties, but the friendships sparked a love of exchanging postal mail and letters of correspondence! A tradition that I still carry forward today, as I will be blogging a bit more about my love for postal mail, stationeries, mixed media collage and postal mail art; intermixed with my love of knitting, as segues of how a bookish girl like me has found beauty and joy in lost arts of the recent past.

The Games themselves by definition and by example, lead us towards a world that is close-knit and tied together through sportsmanship and the honour of competing not merely against each other on teams, but against our ‘best moment inside the sport itself’ to better ourselves and strengthen our abilities therein. It’s a magical and inspirational time every four years, as we get to dip inside a country’s history and the passion they have for not only the continuation of the Games themselves but the diplomacy and the curated friendships that athletes find amongst the community of which they find themselves living for this moment in time and history. The Olympic Village stories combine with the Opening & Closing Ceremonies and the documentaries on the host country, to knit together my overall joy of watching from afar as the Games pursue as the telecast feeds are limited by time zone and distance.

I anchoured myself into the Winter Games a bit quicker than the Summer Games, but I enjoy each of them quite equally, whilst finding the X-Games are a wicked sweet surprise in-between! I have fond memories extending out of Nagano, Japan; Vancouver, British Columbia; London, England; and Beijing, China which gives an overview of my favourite Winter & Summer Games of the past decade or so. When I came to discover the narrative behind Girl Runner, I must confess I had an intense cascade of beautiful memories alighting through my mind’s eye as I considered accepting this novel for review. To explore a part of the Olympic past cast against a fictional character’s story simply enveloped me in full anticipation of what I would discover within the pages themselves!

On a separate note, I had to remind myself that I was a charity runner when I was nine years old who accomplished more than the runners twice her age or older. I hadn’t even realised I was running further and faster than the others around me; as I did experience a bit of what Snyder talks about in her novel Girl Runner where everything outside your run starts to blur and it is you alone on the track or path you’ve elected to race. Running a race isn’t always about a specific end result, it can be for the clock in competition or it can simply be a defining moment where you seek to prove your own fortitude of strength. How far can you personally take yourself to run? How far will you go? The irony is that before I picked up Girl Runner I had forgotten I was a runner myself; one who elected not to run for sport, but to run for myself. I gave myself the freedom to pace my extensions and my distance by what I knew I could achieve against the clock of how long the charity run would last. The best joy was knowing my true best was better than I could have dreamt.

Running gives you an honest account and assessment of your capabilities — how far you can push yourself and how where your own barriers might lie to hold you back from what you can do. There is freedom of spirit in running over and beyond where you felt you physically could travel.

I was encouraged to run during recess and P.E. even though I knew I could not compete with the girls who would make the track team. I decided to find my own buoyancy of rhythm, to tap into where my breath could match my feet and where my gait could extend itself into an individual pace of quickness. I hadn’t realised how I have missed that feeling of achieving something I never expected to gain. Running is an elevated joy from walking; but being in motion in and out of time itself is the appeal.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Blog Book Tour | “Girl Runner” by Carrie SnyderGirl Runner
by Carrie Snyder
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

An unforgettable novel about competition, ambition, and a woman’s struggle to earn a place in a man’s world, Girl Runner is the story of 1928 Olympic gold medalist Aganetha Smart. Will Aganetha’s undeniable talent help her to outrun the social conventions of her time, or the burden of her family’s secrets?

As a young runner, Aganetha Smart defied everyone’s expectations to win a gold medal for Canada in the 1928 Olympics. It was a revolutionary victory, because these were the first Games in which women could compete in track events—and they did so despite opposition. But now Aganetha is in a nursing home, and nobody realizes that the frail centenarian was once a bold pioneer.

When two young strangers appear asking to interview Aganetha for their documentary about female athletes, she readily agrees. Despite her frailty, she yearns for adventure and escape, and though her achievement may have been forgotten by history, her memories of chasing gold in Amsterdam remain sharp. But that triumph is only one thread in the rich tapestry of her life. Her remarkable story is colored by tragedy as well as joy, and as much as Aganetha tries, she cannot outrun her past.

Part historical page-turner, part contemporary mystery, Girl Runner peels back the layers of time to reveal how Aganetha’s amazing gift helped her break away from a family haunted by betrayals and sorrow. But as the pieces of her life take shape, it becomes clear that the power of blood ties does not diminish through the years, and that these filmmakers may not be who they claim to be. . . .

Genres: Canadian Lit, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780062336057

Published by Harper Books

on 3rd February, 2015

Pages: 288

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published by: Harper Books (@harperbooks)

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)

Available FormatsHardback & Ebook

Converse via: #GirlRunner

About Carrie Snyder

Carrie Snyder’s Girl Runner is shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her previous book, The Juliet Stories, was shortlisted for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award and named one of the Globe and Mail‘s Top 100 Books of the Year. Her first book, the short story collection Hair Hat, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award for Short Fiction. A mother of four, Carrie lives with her family in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Listen to a passage from the Novel:

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder { adaptation info }

Six Degrees Music Productions & Studios via WordFest

On starting to read this novel via the WordFest Chapter Adaptation:

Prior to beginning the novel itself, I decided to hop on SoundCloud to see if there was a chapter sampler and/or an excerpt from Girl Runner, as I have enjoyed finding these in the past for books I’m reading for review. The audio book samplers and/or excerpts give an added benefit to me as a reader, as the words and the voice actor’s incantations of the narrative itself, happily provide an unseen dimension to the story; as if the story is lit alive and on fire for the very first intake of it’s breath.

I was not disappointed, mind you, as soon as I begun to read the Prologue, I clicked open the SoundCloud file from WordFest’s special Chapter 1 Adaptation, and thus began my continuing pause of reality to step inside the shoes of Aganetha Smart! Her Southern drawl was not a wink of a surprise to me, as the voice actor whose portrayal of hers left me feeling as cosy comfortable as if I had re-entered the Whistle Stop Cafe! Whispers of Aganetha’s character and her personality half-bent on a luxury for fortified spunk had clasp strongly into my ears and mind as I gathered her thoughts inside the Prologue; but to hear her voice as she’s portrayed in this first reading of mine to include a ‘book play in audio’ gave an added layer; a deepening of her soul and how her heart is split onto the page itself. Achingly brilliant and honestly real, as even as her narrated self is ages ahead of her character’s physical age, there is a soft knowing in those passages; of time, of life, but mostly of how we cycle through our living years with an alarmingly tuned knowing of what is going to happen even without knowing the exactness of how when and what will occur.

Peppered inside this audio play, are little clues and glimpses of ‘action’ being interjected to add a realistic homage to the context itself; such as how it sounds to walk through fields of corn or the scratches of clothes and flesh upon the dirt of graves as you shift from one tomb to another. Enough to trick your mind that your not watching a motion picture but rather, a form of theatre for your ears; to prickle the images in motion within your imagination and anchour the story justly so as it unfolds.

Part of me rejoiced realising this was a slice of Southern Lit or at the very least, the characteristics one would find within Southern stories, intricate in design and a layering of heart round the circumference of the stories themselves. I was a bit perplexed on this level noting the Southern accents and honeying of the words and observations that are indications of being in the South, as I knew this was a release by a Canadian author; it was her canonical clarity of this setting and locale, that simply intrigued me as I think we always wonder how well each of us knows the other (Americans vs Canadians, and in reverse). We might be neighbours in geography, but I think we have an innate curiosity of life between the borders as much as for the people who live within the acres of space between here and there.

Yet, I had to keep reminding myself this was a story rooted in Canadian history not American history; even if the echoes of one region here was strongly reminiscent of a life up there. Perhaps the two countries are not as distinctly different from each other as first thought. 

Upon hearing her voice as the elder Aganetha, my lips were in smile as the switch in voice actors nailed the ‘voice’ I had given to her myself as I had read the Prologue! A bit of an upturnt sour drawl of a woman whose life has gone on living eons past where she felt she’d arrive this late in her years, yet with a countenance that defies her age. She counterbalances her living situation with a sharp mind, a keen wit, and a disparage of angst for her ‘helpers’ who I think she feels do not quite understand her the way in which they ought too!

Oh, dear my! I wish there was a FULL ADAPTATION of this novel by this production team! I’d quite enjoy hearing the rest of the novel as told through their vision for it! My, oh my, audio plays are the next path to explore, by far!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Understanding Aganetha Smart:

Aganetha has a daredevil’s spirit and an earnest defiance to not allow the margins between life and death, and the delicate thread of balance wherein each of these lie to defeat her. She has a dangerous streak inside her where she wants to charge through what is presumed to be true and what is illusionary to be safe; she defines her own reality based on what she can control, manipulate, and conquer. Except this is only half of who she is because most of this side of her personality was wrought out of the intensity of death and the magnitude of emotion her younger self could not fully understand or accept.

She became immune a bit to feeling the depth of where her emotional heart wanted to take her, as she did an about face to counter the harder emotions with adrenaline and a rush of fear. Fear fuelled her desire to do something quite impossible (at least seemingly) yet survive it all the same. She isn’t the sort of person who takes life sitting down nor does she agree with how life unfolds; as if to agree to a route of a path needing to be taken, because it’s been walked previously and is known to be right. She carves out her days as she is carving out a new route to explore. She determines what is right for herself but moreso, she bends what is acceptable to others, and to the foundations of gravity and human achievement.

She has been giving living ghosts of her loved ones to carry with her as she moves forward towards her goals. Not the eerie kind of ghosts, mind, but the kind that are emotionally charged memories, of hauntings where your mind doesn’t want you to forget the particulars of a loved one and therefore masks the true anguish by allowing a suspension of their essence to flutter into your view. She takes these instances of seeing her siblings at face value, even if part of her begs to question the reasoning behind their sightings, she accepts that she’s tethered to them; honouring who they were when they were alive and giving them a bit love in their afterlife.

Each time I drew closer to seeing Aganetha’s spirit, I started to realise she’s not as complicated as people had perceived nor is she difficult to understand. She had a simple joy in her life which she celebrated and appreciated each chance her feet would take her further than they had before. She was unattached to social customs and a bit indifferent to the expectations of her peers. She found a way to live outside a traditional life, whilst giving everything she had to family and sport.

My Review for Girl Runner:

Aganetha Smart is a delightfully wicked smart character who encourages you to read her story from the moment she enlivens the page with her feisty presence! Centurions are a hoot to begin with because they’ve lived enough years to see the full scope of a century with the memories of a life that extended itself outside the circle of where everyone and thing familiar to them has expired. They have a gift for seeing reality through a lens that is not limited to generational block of years, but rather, a story whose epilogue is still being written.

Her younger years were rife with angst and anguish, being one of the few children who survived birth yet it did not harden her but inspired her to be thankful at a tender age for the life she was given. Her childhood was a difficult one, as she had difficulty balancing what was right and what was a bit gray around the edges of being wrong; there is an undercurrent of a life lesson threaded throughout this story, of words spoken and unspoken; of truths known and kept secret — and how all of this can become kindling to hurt those who are quite dear to us.

Snyder arches her story between the childhood past and growing years of Aganetha against the present time where Aganetha is in residence of a nursing home. The past and present bleed into each other as two sparring voices of a journey Aganetha is still taking along the tapestry threads of her living years. Each new layer of insight from a shared memory inserts a new understanding for how she defined her strength and how she longed to run; gaining freedom with each foot she placed down in earnest felicity of speed.

The grace of reading Girl Runner is how much it favours the reading of a memoir; Snyder bewitches you with a cadence of a lived life that entreaties well past the life of the page she’s writ the story. Before you’ve gone half a furlong into Girl Runner, you’ve tricked your mind (and a good portion of your heart) into believing this girl not only lived but she ran! She ran with a fierce determined grit to conquer the path underneath her feet inasmuch as the sport in which she thrived. She ran because it was knitted into her internal make-up to run; to glide and expand her ions into a pulse-lit explosion of energy. Aganetha is empowered with a gift whose skill set had to be polished a bit and learned, yet is it a passionate outcry of her soul to run; to push herself harder, faster, and best her instincts to perfect a sport she felt called to do since she was a young girl on the farm.

The undertone of Girl Runner is a poetic cacophony in-line with a stream of conscience thought, from a mind who takes in everything and re-accesses where everything fits together. Her mind is her greatest asset next to her running feet, as Aganetha has a way of processing her life in a way that pays homage to the seconds and hours by which we live. Her mind enjoys the riddling of understanding what cannot easily be understood and accepting that not all of life is lit pure of joy. She takes in the sorrow with the sweet, allowing herself to feel the aches of pain from people and moments who’ve touched her deeply. This novel has a soul written into it, a narrative second voice where Aganetha’s own mind is being culled and encouraged to speak her story.

As Aganetha pulls us back into that vortex of a ten year old’s haunting memory of her dying sister’s last moment in her family’s house, we see how much fuell she has given herself to run. She doesn’t just run for the sake of running or for the agile ability she has to compete in track and field; no, she runs as a way to shift through and past her emotions. She runs with every inch of her soul and her heart entwined together and as one; running is her lifeline as much as it is her solace. Snyder writes a tenderness into Aganetha’s memories, gently nudging us along as we intake each critical breath and insight that is lent to help us reconnect with Aganetha’s past as much as to humble us to understand what motivated her to run. To take up a life most women were not afforded to have, and to inspire a new generation of runners who ran with a freedom she did not achieve herself yet in a way, she was in part responsible for their success. Every life has a story, surely, but within each story is an unwritten legacy as no one can every fully know whose story has inspired another’s person’s path to lead them forward into their own future.

I might have been sparked in curiosity by the connection Girl Runner has to the Olympic Games, but what kept me hinged into the arc of Synder’s story-telling was her intuitiveness in creating this humble space where a character’s life story is unwinding like a skein of yarn being spun into a hank. She endeavours you to dig deep into this story, to allow Aganetha’s heart to warm yours as you tuck close into her conscience and her thoughts. You start to wonder why there was such a strong empathsis on the Olympics because the true glory of Girl Runner is the story behind the girl who ran; a realisation that flickers a knowing smile. Isn’t it true during all the Olympic Games I’ve watched over a lifetime of televised telecasts, the athlete’s stories are what sustained me the most? Their stories of how a sport they choose not just defined themselves in the niche they selected to live but how the sport they learnt gave them back a passion and a joy that is immeasurable yet enduring? I shall not soon forget Aganetha Smart, nor shall I forget to seek out other stories penned by Carrie Snyder!

On the writing style of Snyder & a bit about #CanLit:

Snyder (of whom can forgive me if I did not catch my insertions of her name as Synder; dyslexics such as I love realising words reverse on their own accords; even a few tweets went array!) has a gift for giving a story a heady heart from the first moment your eyes fuse to the character she’s writ to ground us in her world for the expanse of time set aside to absorb the pages of Girl Runner. Such a treat for the senses, as her lyrical fusion of words and observational imagery gives a lent of air and time to brush the strokes of her story alive in your imagination. I love writers like Snyder whose palette for words and literary worlds deepen in depth the more you soak inside their stories. Almost as if they perceived the reader’s reaction to the opening bits and wanted to take them on this journey that would knit inside their hearts the further they receded into the novel.

The way in which she reveals the story of her character reminded me of another story I read as a 1st Year Book Blogger: Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner. Equally enriched with clarity and a soothing read of a story that felt as real to my senses as if the characters had honestly lived and this was their biographical fiction story cast in ink, typography, and paper. I love these kinds of stories — they have an intimacy and a knowing sense about the world. They give us fodder to chew and a lifetime of a character to read, whilst etching out a slice of life that can only be transparent and transformative in fiction. Both lead characters writ their own paths to follow, embarking away from home whilst carrying home with them wherever they went. There is true honesty in that revelation and true growth on behalf of both characters. They endear you to hear their stories and the story-tellers entice you with their command of the craft.

On a personal note, I had an equally difficult week leading into this review and reading of Girl Runner; so much so I ran straight into my deadline as February has proven to be a bit of a difficult month. Never one to back down from an overload of stress or strife, I know as difficult as the hours can knit together, they can release and allow yourself the pleasure of getting back into a groove where reading and blogging is as enjoyable as it was before. How interesting then, two stories which grabbed my heart and remind me of each other, were read during a difficult week, separated by seven months of being read?

This novel will be included on my forthcoming post in conjunction with the @RandomHouseCA’s Reading Bingo Challenge for #CanLit & #CanAuthors (as seen on my RALs & Challenges page). Until then, I am definitely going to count WordFest’s site as part of my sourcing resources to unearth more CanadianLit during 2015! I will be blogging more about my interest in literature of Canada as well as my path towards seeking out new-to-me authors who reside in Canada whilst giving us riveting stories to soak inside! I can say, it has been a long-term goal of mine to read more #CanLit and this year, is shaping up to be a wonderful one thus far!

Considering the fact I’ve unearthed the following in 2015:

Missing in Paradise by Larry Verstraete

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading*

I, Walter by Mike Hartner

The Imago Chronicles series by Lorna Suzuki

*Big, big news about Kitty Hawk will be revealled on my #CanLit Challenge post!

Due watch my Twitter Feeds as I will be tweeting using #CanLit, #CanAuthors, & #ReadingBingo! These are the most popular tags I’ve been finding threaded on Twitter to be used whilst conversing with other readers who are highlighting what they are reading during the @RandomHouseCA’s Bingo Challenge! I know there is a secondary #CanadaReads discussion threading as well. Of which I am participating with whilst making my way through the Bingo Card as they are cross-related and supportive of #CanLit!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours

{ click-through to follow the blogosphere tour }

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostRainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Carrie Snyder Introduces Girl Runner via Two Roads Books

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

 See what I am hosting next:

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Girl Runner”, author photograph, author biography, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. The author video of the novel by Harper Books and the Audio Play on SoundCloud had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

Tweets shared on behalf of “Girl Runner”:

{ Kindly favour or re-tweet if inspired }

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, ARC | Galley Copy, Audio Play, Audiobook, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Bookish Films, Canada, Canadian Literature, Cats and Kittens, Chapter or Novel Adaptation in Audio, Clever Turns of Phrase, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, During WWI, Geographically Specific, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Interviews Related to Content of Novel, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Literary Fiction, Lyrical Quotations, Midwife | Midwifery, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Soundcloud, Sports, The Olympic Games (Winter or Summer), the Roaring Twenties, TLC Book Tours, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Girl Runner” by Carrie Snyder

    • Hallo, Hallo Heather,

      I’ve been starting to respond to my older comments this February, as I never had the proper chance to respond to a lot of them until now. This was such an incredible read! I was truly surprised where the story took me and it was told from a literary voice I felt was hard to put down! I truly need to seek out more by this author and see what other stories of hers I might enjoy reading next. This is one reason I loved hosting for TLC – finding new authors to appreciate and new ways in which a story could be told. I have a lot of happy memories as a hostess.

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