Girl Runner

A Novel

By (author) Carrie Snyder
Categories: Fiction: general and literary, Fiction and Related items, Biographical fiction
Publisher: House of Anansi Press
Hardcover : 9781770894327, 376 pages, September 2014


Girl Runner is the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten by history. For Aganetha, a competitive and ambitious woman, her life remains present and unfinished in her mind.

When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her childhood in rural Ontario and her struggles to make an independent life for herself in the city.

Without revealing who they are, or what they may want from her, the visitors take Aganetha on an outing from the nursing home. As ready as ever for adventure, Aganetha’s memories are stirred when the pair return her to the family farm where she was raised. The devastation of WWI and the Spanish flu epidemic, the optimism of the 1920s and the sacrifices of the 1930s play out in Aganetha’s mind, as she wrestles with the confusion and displacement of the present.

Part historical page-turner, part contemporary mystery, Girl Runner is an engaging and endearing story about family, ambition, athletics and the dedicated pursuit of one’s passions. It is also, ultimately, about a woman who follows the singular, heart-breaking and inspiring course of her life until the very end.


a beautiful story about following your heart…

- CBC Books

…a great read

- Susan G. Cole

'Girl Runner' is a marvelously complex novel that never loses its way... a powerful novel

- Kitchener Waterloo Record

Aganetha Smart is one of the more memorable characters in recent Canadian fiction

- Owen Sound Sun Times

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...

- Lyricycle

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.

- Stacey May Fowles

In Girl Runner, Carrie Snyder proves that she is a master storyteller

- Sukasa Reads blog

Snyder’s novel is lovely. The descriptions…are a breath of palpable fresh air.

- This Magazine

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.

- Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls

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.

- Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants and At the Water’s Edge

readers, get ready to be dazzled

- Pickle Me This blog review

The thump thump of shoes against the pavement is the heartbeat of Girl Runner

- Chatelaine

Girl Runner...more than lives up to the promise of The Juliet Stories (2012) and Hair Hat (2004)...a complex novel...rhythmic and satisfying.

- Melanie Brannagan Frederiksen

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.

- Carlyn Schellenberg

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

- Rachel Carlson

…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.

- Natalie Zina Walschots

The protagonist of Carrie Snyder’s Girl Runner is fierce and uncompromising

- Toronto Star

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.

- London Free Press

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.

- Dani Couture

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.

- Erin Balser

…crisp and smart and lyrical. It is a page-turner.

- 4mothers1blog

Girl Runner is a book that will, and should, find a wide audience…one of my favourite books of 2014.

- Susan Fish

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.

- EbookClassics

a page turner…revelatory

- Waterloo Chronicle

so beautifully written…one of my favourites of the year

- Bookends Newstalk1010

sentences with…aphoristic beauty glow throughout the novel

- Echolocation