Finished January 14
Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder
This novel is centered around Aganetha Smart, a woman now in her second century and living in a long term care home. When she was young, she won gold for Canada in the 800 metre race in the 1928 Olympics.
The novel was inspired by real events. It was a German woman who won the race in that year's Olympics and the officials determined that women were not physically suited for races beyond 200 metres and it wasn't until 1960 that women could again compete in the 800.
Aganetha grew up with her sisters on a farm, the youngest in a family of sisters as well as older step-sisters and step-brothers. Aganetha's mother was a midwife, a woman that also took pity on young women caught in difficult circumstances and offered them an alternative.
Once she finishes school, Aganetha joined her sister Olive and half-brother George in Toronto, finding work in a factory. She gets notices by a sponsor of women's athletics and gets the opportunity to train with other promising young women athletes and a more pleasant factory job.
Aganetha is befriended by a young woman already showing promise in this area, and with the advantages of a wealthy background and the two become very close.
In this novel, Aganetha is taken out of the long term care home where she now lives by two young people and spirited back to her past, As the present day events take Aganetha back, we find the story spun out in both times, what the young people are asking of her, and what she remembers from her youth.
This is a story of determination, of a life chosen, and of a young girl influenced by others more worldly than her. Fascinating and engrossing, I cared for Aganetha and felt for her as she struggled through her life.