I think this was another one from the "100 Most Read Books" list. It's definitely a good one. I'm not marking it a "must read," but it is a close runner-up.
This is one of those rare books that starts strong and keeps that pace. I liked the first line: "Bernadette had been dead two weeks when her sisters showed up in Doyle's living room asking for the statue back." That grabbed me right away and drew me into the story, as any good first line should.
The title of the book was well-chosen. It was interesting to see how that word fit into the lives of so many of the characters. It was most obvious with Kenya and her great talent for running, and more subtle for the others: Sullivan running from his problems in Africa; Tip running down his own path even though his father had other hopes for him; Doyle running for office (though this was in the past) and hoping his sons would follow in his footsteps; the pace of the book; and even, if I stretch it a little too far, Tennessee getting run over.
I loved when a big revelation was coming and one tiny clue made me realize the answer a paragraph or two before it was spelled out, like when Tennessee "reached into her own hair and pulled on one of her little braids." That was one of those moments that caused everything to shift so that something previously unthought of came into focus. Or earlier in the book, when small hints were doled out bit by bit, like "Teddy had always been her favorite of the two brothers" or "Kendra was never allowed to speak to the Doyles," each hint reminding me there was a little mystery to figure out, until I was sure before the truth was revealed.
My favorite character was Kenya. She was so impressively self-sufficient and self-possessed--qualities admirable (and rare) enough in an adult, but made all the more amazing when found in an eleven-year-old.
I think Anne would find the priest's philosophy on what does (or doesn't) follow death interesting. After a lifetime of encouraging others to "constantly strain forward to see the power and the glory that was waiting up ahead," he had come to wonder whether "God may well have been life itself," and we ought to "elevate the present to a state of the divine . . . How wrongheaded it seemed now to think that the thrill of heartbeat and breath were just a stepping stone to something greater . . . Life itself had been holy."
At the top of this post I'm actually displaying cover art that does not match the copy I read, because I like it so much better than the boring mottled blue one I have in hand. See?