The Mother-Son Running Streak Club, by Nancy Shohet West, is the account of a year that West, a freelance journalist living outside Boston, spent streak running with her 9 year-old son Tim. For the uninitiated, streak runners are runners who run at least one mile every day, with no interruptions. West, a longtime runner, challenged her son to run at least a mile with her for a year, a challenge that he accepted and met. The Mother-Son Running Streak Club documents that year, including the way her relationship with Tim changed (and didn't), and how the running was incorporated into the rest of West's life.
West is an incredibly honest writer. She unapologetically talks about the flaws she sees both in her son and in herself. She admits that she hoped that the running would cure Tim of his moodiness and addiction to video games. (It didn't.) She admits that she hoped that the running would magically erase the tension she often felt with him. (It didn't.) She admits that she is not always the most patient mother or the most ambitious worker. I admire her for her honesty and for putting those statements out there for the world to read, which couldn't have been easy.
West is also a beautiful writer – clear and precise and compelling. The book flows naturally and doesn't get bogged down in unnecessary detail. It can be a bit repetitive at times, but when you're writing about a singular activity that you participate in every day for a year, I am not sure how to avoid that.
There was a lot in the book that I could personally relate to. Working mother guilt. Slow running. Dread of your children leaving the elementary school years. West covers it all, but manages to find the positive in most situations, even when she's at her most anxious.
I feel that I must disclose that West is a faithful reader of EDIWTB and the sister of one of my closest friends in the world. But I can honestly say that if she were a total stranger, my review wouldn't be any different. I will, however, thank her for the review copy (Hi FTC!).
I have a blog that I write about my kids, and every year on their birthday, I have the previous year's entries printed into a book. My kids like the books now, but I hope that they will really treasure them when they're older. I suspect that Tim will similarly treasure this book when he's older (especially because his own journal of that year is threaded through the book), as he will the touching efforts his mother made to connect with him in this unusual and dedicated manner.