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RUNNER by Robert Newton


by Robert Newton

Pub Date: April 10th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-375-83744-9
Publisher: Knopf

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 naïve 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)