The other day I spent several hours reading Run by Ann Patchett while I was in the hospital waiting for my husband to  get out of the recovery room after his ankle surgery.  A funny choice as one character’s broken ankle figures in the proceedings. The longer the day went on and the more preposterous the activities Tip, the broken-ankle dude, took part in only a few hours after having his ankle run over by an SUV, the more annoyed I got.  He’s in a cast and on crutches and Percocet just like my husband was over the weekend.  I had a hard time believing anyone, especially anyone as well-connected and well-off as he, would tromp through Boston and Cambridge in the biggest snowstorm since 1978 in such a state, going up and down icy and snowy stairs to show a little girl some dead fish in jars.  Please.  Remind me to berate my husband for lying in bed all weekend with his foot up when I could have gotten some yard work out of him apparently.  I understand why the author set up those scenes, but they were so obviously set up that they grated.

Sure, Patchett writes beautifully sometimes and she may have gotten the Harvard details just so, but I honestly do not see what the reviewers saw in this book–8 million too many coincidences, flat characters, and the wisest, most articulate 11 year old girl known to mankind,  Most of the pain is offstage, and the actual hard work of the healing and reconnecting of the family is glossed over unsatisfactorily. 

All that time hanging around a real hospital and seeing the non-verbal pain charts hanging everywhere that rate a smiley face person as a 1 and adds a grimace or two on the way up to a screaming crazy person at 10 gave me an idea.  For orthopedic pain I think it would make more sense to think in terms of screws: 1 screw a little pain, 2  means more, all the way up to being totally screwed, which is exactly what my poor husband was when he was released at 9 p.m. that night to the care of me, our son and daughter.  Ouch.