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 film 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 . . .
Carrie Snyder is the author of two books of short fiction. Her first, Hair Hat, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award for Short Fiction, and her second, The Juliet Stories was a finalist for the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario.
'Girl Runner' is a marvelously complex novel that never loses its way... a powerful novel
Snyder’s novel is lovely. The descriptions…are a breath of palpable fresh air.
sentences with…aphoristic beauty glow throughout the novel
so beautifully written…one of my favourites of the year
In Girl Runner, an exquisitely crafted, deeply imagined novel, former Olympic athlete Aganetha Smart comes to vibrant, often aching life. As she pursues her dream, negotiates the travails of achieving much early in life and navigates the complexities of family and friendship, her captivating story unfolds with the sure-footedness of an elite runner.
a page turner…revelatory
Aganetha Smart is one of the more memorable characters in recent Canadian fiction
…what defines the novel is the depth and breadth of Aggie herself; she’s a rare heroine whose rich internal life is matched only by the abundance of her external living.
Girl Runner is a book that will, and should, find a wide audience…one of my favourite books of 2014.
The thump thump of shoes against the pavement is the heartbeat of Girl Runner
The story itself is compelling and timeless and the female characters are as sharply drawn as if they had been carved from the unyielding earth of the Ontario farmland. Carrie Snyder’s precise images and clear sentences carry the action forward, and her expert handling of the changes in setting make the shifts almost seamless...
readers, get ready to be dazzled
In Girl Runner, Carrie Snyder proves that she is a master storyteller
Snyder’s imagination has here worked overtime to produce a novel of intriguing originality. The book is well written and totally captivating, and is a rare salute to women in sport.
a beautiful story about following your heart…
Girl Runner...more than lives up to the promise of The Juliet Stories (2012) and Hair Hat (2004)...a complex novel...rhythmic and satisfying.
This is a satisfying story about a complicated and compelling life- a life, so it happens, shaped by running ... Girl Runner makes for a gold medal read.
The protagonist of Carrie Snyder’s Girl Runner is fierce and uncompromising
…a great read
…crisp and smart and lyrical. It is a page-turner.
Girl Runner is a well-paced book that weaves together the past and present narratives of an uncompromising woman’s life … Snyder… manages to capture the essence of the need to run, that marrow-deep desire.
richly imagined…a story that traces the deep contradictions and challenges of familial bonds and breaks, the mystery of death and mortality, and the hardships of advanced age
If you’re going to read Girl Runner, cancel all of your plans and get comfortable because you are not going to want to put this book down.
Carrie Snyder has written an extraordinary, accomplished debut novel of love and family: a wonderful story of a free spirit forced to make difficult choices. Aggie Smart is a truly memorable heroine: she grabbed my hand on page one and never let go.
Aganetha Smart is a character all readers will root for; Girl Runner is a celebration of ardent, unapologetic women, and those who won’t stop running. Snyder provides a satisfyingly emotional and gripping read.
Ultimately, Girl Runner is a beautiful, thoughtful homage to those forgotten women who stepped outside the boundaries of what was allotted to them, and a testament to the struggles and sacrifices that paved the way for the female athletes who followed.