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Someone to Run With by David Grossman
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Someone to Run With (2000)

by David Grossman

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3421032,058 (4.11)16
  1. 10
    Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Both novels deal with two complex people finding love while overcoming hardships, with lovely odd support characters.
  2. 10
    The Blue Mountain by Meir Shalev (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Emits the same warm glow in the writing, the landscapes, the people... Subject matter is different!
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English (7)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
It was as if all those lonely people scattered throughout the world, in some mysterious way, created a secret net, transferring strength to one another in times of need.

There are many lonely people in the world. This is not unreasonable to generalize about. And some of these people need each other before they even know it. There is a longing, an ache, an emptiness, an awkwardness in the face of the world. And one lives with it so long that one begins to believe it as an unchangeable truth. It is the "missing Lego piece" that Tamar thinks she lacks, the piece that allows a connection to be made with another person, that specific interlocking with another Lego piece that we seek. It's not as if she likes it. "What do you think, that I don't want to connect with other people? I can't truly connect with anyone; it's how I was made. It's a fact." But her core has been shattered at a young age, by those closest to her, by her family, the ones who do often fail us, despite what they may believe to be their best intentions.

Assaf is a teenager working a boring summer job at City Hall. His best friend Roi is annoying, and has basically turned against him now that they are older and he no longer needs Assaf to prop him up. Roi wants Assaf to date Dafi, his girlfriend Maytal's friend, so that they can all go out together and Assaf and Dafi can make Roi and Maytal look even better. Assaf isn't interested in this. He doesn't like Dafi. He also doesn't talk much. He tends to wilt in the face of adversity:

It always happened that way to him: when someone spoke so rudely to him, or anyone else, his will to live would evaporate for a moment. It was as if he would run out of himself, losing any passion for existence, when people spoke like that.

One day Assaf's boss gives him a job to do: find the owner of a dog that was picked up running around the streets of Jerusalem. The dog is wild with sorrow in the kennels. Yet this seemingly inconsolable animal responds to Assaf. They connect like Lego pieces. The dog's name is Dinka and she plays a starring role in the novel. However, this is no shaggy dog story (sorry, I couldn't help that...). It's David Grossman, so of course there is a point!

Everyone in this book is lonely in some way. Everyone is looking to connect or reconnect their Lego pieces, whether they think they have them or not. Assaf is a "lonely human snowflake, desperate for assurance that somewhere in that empty space hovered another like it." Theodora wants to connect, she has a thirst, but she is a Greek nun trapped forever in a convent in Jerusalem, waiting for the pilgrims of Lyxos who will never come. Shai has a Lego piece but it is buried underneath addiction and other clouds of darkness. Rhino is lonely; he pines for Assaf's sister Reli, who has fled to America. Leah wants someone with whom to share her reclaimed life. Even Pesach wants to be accepted, to be liked, though his methods for attempting to garner that acceptance are horrifically flawed and exploitative.

As with To the End of the Land, however, for me, the other characters began to fade away, as the focus sharpened on just two. In this book, Tamar and Assaf. What seems like an endless gulf separates the two, both emotionally and physically. Like Yair in Be My Knife, Tamar compartmentalizes her life. She keeps her friends separate. Assaf wonders if "maybe this way she has more freedom," which he comes to understand is the most important thing to her. But this compartmentalizing makes it harder for Assaf to find her. For it becomes his mission to do so. And Dinka is there to lead him. She will help him discover "the pleasure of running toward the unknown." She will free him from his boring summer job and take him on the adventure he doesn't even know he needed to experience.

Tamar knows sadness, "she touched the wire with both hands, and her sadness wasn't an ordinary sadness." She can also describe it well. Assaf knows this before he even meets her, because he sees it in her diary. But Tamar also sings. And her singing saves her.

Again, her singing was her only absolute., the only thing that was completely her. A thousand classes hadn't given her this concrete insight: her voice was her place in the world, the home she leaves in the morning and returns to at night, in which she can be herself in her entirety and hope to be loved for all she is and in spite of all she is.

Home does not have to be a place, after all. Home can be carried with you, inside yourself. For what we often want in the idea of "home" is a place to feel ourselves in our entirety. And we can only truly feel that inside our own skin. Outside, there are too many other factors at play, a constantly shifting mosaic of surroundings outside of our control. But a voice, be it sung, spoken, or written, can function like a home. It can be a place we go to feel like ourselves, our true selves, and that in turn opens us up to others. Not everyone will be receptive, but like Shai playing the opening bars of "Imagine" on his guitar for Tamar, it can be the opening of a door. And someone who was needed may walk through it.

Dinka knows the places to go and Assaf follows her, though not always to his advantage. He takes some beatings in this book. Not a violent boy, by any means, he is thrust into a hostile underworld with little in the way of defenses. He is tall and wide, but does not know how to use his size to his advantage. As a result, he suffers at the hands of those who speak fluent the language of violence. But he gets other people talking, ones who at first are unsure. He wins them over with his quiet, attentive listening: "You're a magician. Look how you can make people talk to you. What a gift." One could say he is disarming in his silence, as I heard someone described on the radio recently. Walls are dismantled by the chisel of Assaf's silence.

If this is all starting to swirl together, good. I don't want to give too much away. As with other Grossman novels, the magic lies taut with tension, embroidered with foreshadowing and maddening details that may or may not lead the reader to what they see as foregone conclusions. I have tried to take care not to even hint at those. But I will say that Grossman always believes in the power of telling stories and this book is no different when it comes to that belief. What is important is the telling, the power of sharing details with each other. That is what pulls people together, that is what snaps the Lego pieces tight. As Theodora tells Assaf:

You still do not understand, agori mou? How shall I come to know you without the small details? How, then, will I tell you a story from my own heart?

This is a story from David Grossman's heart. I don't know how one man's heart can be as big as his, but I am glad for its warm roominess, and I am thankful there are many other books of his I have yet to read.
( )
  S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
A delightful romp from beginning to end. Escapism, happy endings, true love, a dog....what can I say? Thanks, David Grossman! ( )
  poingu | Mar 30, 2013 |
Het stormt buiten. Dat is echt een moment om dit boek te lezen. Het leest heerlijk, is gloeiend warm. Lekker winterlezen.
  Lotoverboeken | Jan 5, 2012 |
Assaf, a 16-year-old living in Jerusalem, is sent to find the owner of a lost dog by following her at the end of a leash and to collect a fee for the dog’s return. He does not immediately find the owner, but does find other people who recognize Dinka as the dog of Tamar. One such person is the Greek nun Theodora who is happy to see Dinka but is more concerned about the disappearance of the dog’s owner.

Grossman has created a story that involves the reader with a darker side of Jerusalem, but not the one that makes world news. Dealing with the world of the city’s disenfranchised streets kids, the book unfolds a tale of two young people each with a mission and how their paths cross. The character’s dialogues include much unspoken thought which provides a window into their uncertainties in dealing with others. It also reflects how what is spoken is often not exactly what one feels.

The time construction of the novel was a bit unusual. Each of the stories of the two main characters is a different length in time but converge in the end. The technique is done well and provides the reader with a chance to “put all the pieces together” as the story develops.

I especially like the dog who also is an important character. In fact, she is the thread that brings most of the characters together. And, like the dog, pulling Assaf along, this mini-mystery of a story has enough drive to pull its readers at a non-stop pace through to the end. ( )
1 vote SqueakyChu | Jan 18, 2011 |
I was in desperate need of a light read and there it was! A light read indeed, even though De stem van Tamar (Eng. title: someone to run with) has themes about drug abuse, dysfunctional families and deeply egoistic characters. But this novel is a love story and love stories are (almost) always light reads, in my opinion. This has two reasons.

One: all traits of character are portrayed in a soft light. Peculiarities, flaws even, are shown as being part and parcel of the unique personality in the love interest. Is Assaf, the male principal character, a little slow and awkward? Well that’s ever so nice, because it’ just the thing Tamar, the female principal character, needs. Is Tamar sometimes depressed and distrustful? No worries, Assaf will mend it. And, above all, these peculiarities will help their quest-at-hand and it will help them overcome them!
I don’t want to ridicule Grossmans writing, it is very good. This only points out why it’s a light read.

Two: in love stories there often is a lot of suffering. Terrible things happen, in this case things like exploitation, severe drug addiction, violence without cause. However, they are instrumental to the story. They serve as obstacles to a sure end: love. Therefore, the reader can keep a distance to the terrible things, a distance one would not have in other novels dealing with serious problems.
This is the reason I disliked love stories intensely in my teens. It infuriated me that a writer could throw in serious trouble, whatever, only for the sake of his loved ones getting together. As I liked this novel, I guess the dislike has gone.

A light read, and a lovely one. Grossman brought Jerusalem and its inhabitants alive for me. Each character, from Assaf to a police woman he meets on the road, are well rounded characters. Both Tamar and Assaf are beautiful in their complex personalities, very recognizable as young adults, but also as different ways of living, of looking at live.
Early on I got an accurate idea about how the plot would resolve, but it didn’t much lessen the pleasure of reading.
Grossman, as well as his fellow writer Meir Shalev, succeeds in giving a warm glow to his writing, so tangible I can almost warm my hands on the book. I marvel at this, as both writers are from a country, that has endured many hardships.

In short: a recommendation!
  bookmomo | Feb 15, 2010 |
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Voor mijn kinderen Yonatan, Uri en Rutie
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Er draaft een hond door de straten en een jongen rent achter hem aan.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031242194X, Paperback)

The story of a lost dog, and the discovery of first love on the streets of Jerusalem are portrayed here with a gritty realism that is as fresh as it is compelling.

When awkward and painfully shy sixteen-year-old Assaf is asked to find the owner of a stray yellow lab, he begins a quest that will bring him into contact with street kids and criminals, and a talented young singer, Tamar, engaged on her own mission: to rescue a teenage drug addict.

A runaway bestseller in Israel, in the words of the Christian Science Monitor: “It’s time for Americans to fall in love with Someone to Run With.”

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:09 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The love story of two teenagers and one missing dog on the run in Jerusalem.

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