On the Run
On the Run
After a block of running, Ryan slowed down. He caught his breath and scanned the street. His old man wasn’t following him. Ryan looked back at the three-storey building with the peeling paint and rusty air conditioners sticking out of the windows. He’d never go back.
As he walked along, Ryan shuddered at the memory of the cop’s flashlight playing across his body. No way was he going back to juvie to be thrown into a pod with the likes of Dan. Running was the only option, the farther away the better. The cops would expect him to head south. Instead, he’d take the Yellowhead Highway, going east toward Alberta.
Ryan made his way across town and stuck out his thumb. He hitched a ride with a mill worker driving to Prince George. Sometime later, the guy dropped him off outside of the city at the Yellowhead Bridge.
Ryan walked onto the bridge, which spanned the Fraser River. He watched the water swirl in eddies as it gouged into the riverbanks, pushing gravel and muck around. It’s like my life, all gravel and muck going nowhere, he thought. He turned and looked down the road. This time things would be different. With determined steps, he walked up the steep slope of the highway.
On the Run is a fast-paced novel that focuses on Ryan, a 17-year-old who chooses to run away from a juvenile detention home, determined to turn his life around. In his past, Ryan has done things like stealing cars and engaging in breaking and entering. He wants to do better. While on the run, Ryan meets semi-trailer driver Pete who has a positive influence on Ryan. While Ryan has experienced disappointment and abuse from his father, Pete, on the other hand, shows Ryan another way. Employment, distance education, listening and sharing, defending and teaching, and seeing things from a different perspective are some of the ways in which Pete connects with, and changes, Ryan.
This novel offers a fair bit of material in which student readers will find interest. There is some content involving hands-on learning, such as when Ryan teaches fellow juvie member Connor about fractions using small pieces of wood, and on standing up for others who may not be able to stand up for themselves. Ryan also shows (when he saves Pete from a vehicle accident) that anyone can do heroic deeds. Ryan also shows that he makes mistakes, such as with running away and breaking his court order and by attending a party with strangers where alcohol and drugs are present. Even so, throughout the novel, Ryan shows a willingness to change, and he does so in the end.
Further, the novel offers other teachable content, including foreshadowing, such as occurs in the following example: “Then he sat next to Crystal, thinking it was his lucky day. Nothing could possibly go wrong” (p. 50). It also offers imagery and figurative language such as when Ryan “listened for the sound of snoring, but the place was as quiet as a graveyard” (p. 16).
On the Run is in written in the third person point of view. The sentence structure consists primarily of short sentences that may appeal to younger or reluctant readers. The novel’s setting moves through various parts of Canada, mentioning British Columbia, Alberta (the Rockies, Jasper National Park (which is described on pages 35-36), Saskatchewan, and other locales.
Overall, On the Run brings forth positive messages and is a worthwhile read.
Karyn Miehl, a mother of two and a secondary school English teacher, lives in Kingsville, Ontario.