Imagine being the mere age of seventeen and having to provide for your family. That means no Friday nights with friends and no random shopping sprees. You are the one who must scrimp and save every dime you make in order to pay the electric bill, the heating bill, etc. All the responsibility of keeping your home has been placed upon your shoulders. Does this sound a little far fetched? In Carl Deuker’s Runner, this is reality for young Chance Taylor.
In Runner, Deuker tells the story of high school senior Chance Taylor who lives aboard a sailboat, The Tiny Dancer, with his alcoholic father. His mother has abandoned their family, and his dad never has a stable job. Chance knows that scraping pots for six hours a day will not provide him with the money he needs to provide for the small family. Deuker provides insight to the hardships of the economy through Chance’s eyes. In today’s economy, many families know what it is like to live from paycheck to paycheck because of an unstable job. By seeing Chance’s responsibilities, along with his worries and frustrations, the reader can relate to him and find the strength to persevere. For those readers fortunate enough not to be affected by the rapidly deteriorating economy, Runner will help them gain an appreciation for what they have and realize what it is like to truly be an adult.
Each chapter of Runner is roughly only a page long, and because of this the plot is developed very quickly. By the time the reader reaches part two of the book, the problem of the story has already been well established. Chance has made his decision and what affect this decision will have on him and his father, as well as his reasoning behind his decision. Part three is quicker than the previous two parts. Everything happens so quickly that readers are on the edge of their seats, white-knuckling it down to the very last sentence. Deuker is successful in his attempts to clearly show the plot in the first chapter, develop it in the second part and first half of the third part, and then come to his halting conclusion at the end of the story.
One of themes displayed in Deuker’s Runner is “Good vs. Evil.” Chance is faced with a situation and he must decide what to do. Should he run the mysterious packages, as is asked of him, for $100 per week even though he knows he is involved in something bad? Should he leave the money even though it will save his family? Readers will also notice the common theme of how tough decisions are an inevitable part of life and how they show a person’s true character. Chance must decide what he wants to do, whether it be taking or leaving the money.
Carl Deuker displays a relationship to Chance, a well paced plot, and multiple themes throughout his book, Runner. It is an easy read, but it is an excellent story because it plays on the conscience of readers throughout its entirety.