Monday, November 7, 2011

Run With Me by Jennifer Luitwieler: A Retrospective Review

Have you ever wondered what your life would look like if told through a story?  Imagine if you had to chronicle your life up to this moment, what would it look like?  How would it sound?  What would you choose to include?  What would you leave out and why?  What would you highlight, and why would that be interesting to others?  What people would stand out as characters in the story?  What would be the plot?  How would the story rise to a climax and then end with every aspect coming together to complete the wonderful tale that is your life, all the while keeping the attention of the reader?  Seems a bit overwhelming, doesn’t it?  Maybe a little humbling?  After all, most of us don’t live crazy, exciting James Bond kind of lives, right?  So why would someone want to read “our” story?  Good question.  But rather than attempting to solve the seemingly impossible, let me tell you a little about a book and someone who seems to have figured it out.  And with near perfection, I might add.

In Run With Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo, my friend and author, Jennifer Luitwieler takes all of the ingredients listed above, tells her story in a way that instantly captures your attention, and all the while creates a cohesive narrative that remains adjoined in seamless perfection.  And she does this in one of the most simple ways possible: she takes you on a journey.  The vehicle she uses for the journey is running and the fuel that gets you there is poo.  Yes, poo!  Dog poo to be more specific.  But you’ll have to read the book to find out why dog poo is so significant to this book.

As Jennifer states in the beginning of the book, Run With Me is not only a book about running.  And it really isn’t, although in a strange way, it is.  Again, you’ll just have to read the book to understand the dichotomy.  In realty, running is only the cohesive gel that holds the story together.  It’s the common thread that keeps it going and unites aspects of a life, just like yours and mine and packages them together.  Although running has become a significant part of her life, she uses her passion to link ordinarily life together in an enjoyable story.  That is what is so powerful about this book.  Jennifer creates a story telling model that reveals that each and every one of us has a “story”, we just have to find the vehicle that carries it.  If you’re runner, you’ll get it.  If you’re not a runner, you’ll get it.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is it’s simplicity and holistic flow.  In a society that compartmentalizes every aspect of our life, Jennifer is able to blend life realities into a refreshing story that is intertwined at almost every point.  Each theme that she emphasizes and each point she makes, remarkably connects to the entire essential theme and leaves no loose ends.  The story is organic and flows naturally without confusion.  You never get lost in the story or find yourself wondering where a particular point is going.  Whether she is describing her spiritual journey and frustrations with the Church, or the details of her first half marathon, she makes her point while making sure that you’re connecting with her.

Run with me is fun, refreshing and uplifting.  In fact, having somewhat of a melancholy personality, at times I found it too uplifting!  Through the story, Jennifer is like the friend that keep telling you jokes or tickling you until you smile.  You do your best to remain in self-pity, but you finally submit, realizing that your attempts are futile.  You WILL smile.  You WILL laugh.  You WILL end up having a better outlook on life. Curse you, Jennifer, and your motivationally themed memoir!

In all honesty, Jennifer leaves it up to you.  She has no agenda and no preconceived notions that she will change your perspective on life.  She simply shares her journey.  Run With Me leaves you feeling that you just had a great conversation with a friend, she shared some good stuff with you and hopes you took something from the story.  You get the impression that if she made you laugh, at least for that moment, she accomplished her goal.  Although, if you want to run with her, just a little farther, she’s ready to go!

Read Run With Me and run with Jennifer!

Article also published in Provokotive Magazine, 11/10/2011         

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