Runner

Runner

4.0 1
by Robert Newton
     
 

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Charlie's father is dead, and although his mother insists he stay in school, Charlie has no patience for the classroom. All he wants is to make money, to give his mother and baby brother a better life. So when he catches the eye of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious mobster, and is offered a job as Squizzy's courier, it doesn't take Charlie long to accept—even if he

Overview

Charlie's father is dead, and although his mother insists he stay in school, Charlie has no patience for the classroom. All he wants is to make money, to give his mother and baby brother a better life. So when he catches the eye of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious mobster, and is offered a job as Squizzy's courier, it doesn't take Charlie long to accept—even if he has to go against his own mother's wishes.

At first, the job's a thrill—running with messages, illegal liquor, whatever Squizzy orders. It fills Charlie with power. But then come the not-so-savory parts of the job. Collecting Squizzy's debts. Dodging Squizzy's enemies. The very real dangers of the streets. And at some point Charlie has to ask himself—how long before running for a better life means cutting his life short?


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Australian author Newton's touching coming-of-age story starring 16-year-old Charlie Feehan is set in 1919 Melbourne. After his father's death, Charlie still wears knickerbockers at school, "but once the lessons were over, I returned home and stepped into the long pants of adulthood." Responsible for caring for his impoverished family, Charlie runs several miles nightly, in an effort to cast off the inescapable cold at home ("To be poor was to be cold. The two were the same"). Charlie's speed attracts the attention of local crime boss Squizzy Taylor who offers him a job as a runner, delivering goods and collecting payments. Though Charlie's mother forbids him from accepting the position, he skips school to take the job. However, he eventually discovers that Squizzy's world is far too dangerous. When Charlie's friend and fellow runner, Norman "Nostrils" Heath, is crippled by a gang attack, Charlie, paralyzed by fear, is unable to come to his friend's defense. Charlie's neighbor, Mr. Redman, offers to train him for the big Bellarat Mile Race, and Charlie sees this as his best opportunity for redemption. The youth's growing friendship with Nostrils is especially tender, as is a subplot centering on a nascent romantic interest. Newton's writing teems with bright, engaging dialogue, a compelling historical setting and fully developed characters; this outing should easily win him U.S. fans. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Ed Goldberg
In 1919 Richmond, Australia, sixteen-year-old Charlie Feehan is dirt poor. At night he runs to disassociate himself from his dire circumstances since his father died. To remedy his poverty, he runs errands during the day for local gangster, Squizzy Taylor. Charlie's father always told him that a man is measured by his actions, and Charlie realizes that he does not live up when one night he runs away from a gang fight, leaving his best mate, "Nostril," to be beaten up. When a local baker, the father of a girl he likes, pleads for more time to make his loan payment to Squizzy, Charlie realizes how far he has sunk. His neighbor, Mr. Redmond, suggests that Charlie train for a local one-mile race that carries a winner's purse. Charlie sees the race as his last chance to leave poverty behind. On race day, with the odds against him as the underdog, Charlie gives Mr. Redmond all his earnings to bet on himself to win. This unusual story is difficult to wade through because of the cockney dialect used in otherwise easy-to-read writing. The characters, especially Charlie and Nostril, are engaging. The combination of story line, action, family drama (Charlie's mother becomes withdrawn after being abused by a suitor), mild romance, and camaraderie could make the novel appealing to younger boys. The glossary of Australian phrases is helpful, and the author's note briefly describes the period and characters. It is not a must-have but not bad.
Kirkus Reviews
Following the death of his father and faced with the prospect of a cold, hungry winter in Northern Australia, 16-year-old narrator Charlie Feehan struggles to find his way into adulthood. Set in a bustling working-class neighborhood in Richmond, Melbourne in 1919, Charlie goes behind his grieving mother's back as he works as an alcohol runner for local crime boss Squizzy Taylor. Covering a lot of ground (poverty, violence, identity, family, friendship, romance, athleticism), this episodic novel has more than a few holes and contrivances. For instance, the streetwise kid who understands the danger faced by a local prostitute is unconvincingly naive about the intentions of his mother's violent suitor, a plot thread that seems inserted to help Charlie hold onto his ill-gotten cash. Still, this vivid coming-of-age tale, steeped in period dialogue that may initially prove challenging, may satisfy determined readers with its colorful characters, gritty action, a protagonist who grows and changes and its resonant themes and issues. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307490353
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
03/04/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Robert Newton has published several other young adult novels in Australia. He is a full-time firefighter, and lives in Melbourne with his wife and two daughters.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Runner 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
After Charlie Feehan's beloved father passes away, it seems the whole Feehan family hits rock bottom -- until Squizzy Taylor offers Charlie an amazing job with a matching miraculous paycheck.

The illegal liquor runs turn Charlie into someone he truly isn't, though. And when his good mate, Nostrils, gets a beating, Charlie has to decide whether to choose a dangerous path in life or a wiser one.

With top-notch training, Charlie is either ready for his big mile-long race -- or not.

RUNNER is a very well-detailed and exciting book. Robert Newton is a talented writer. A great read!