The Runaway


165 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-439-98895-0
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Darleen R. Golke

Darleen R. Golke is a high-school teacher-librarian in Winnipeg,


In 1935, three-week-old Graham Robertson is placed in London’s Home
for Unwanteds. After the war, Graham moves to Velma Villa, in Bury St.
Edmunds, under the benign dictatorship of Mother Button. When the older
Villa boys blame the 11-year-old Graham for their misdeeds, he responds
by running away to London in search of his mother. Although he fails in
his quest, he enjoys an excellent adventure before being returned to the
Villa. The Villa bullies continue to plague him and finally succeed in
implicating him in a theft. Graham is brought before a magistrate and
sent to Greystone School for Homeless Boys.

Graham’s time at Greystone presents him with new challenges, but
sustained by his dream of finding his mother, he weathers the
discipline, the rules, and the bullying. After an escapade, fearing that
he will be sent to Borstal, “a dreaded Remand Centre,” Graham runs
away again. Granted another chance after his return, he buckles down,
graduates at 16, returns to Bury St. Edmunds, establishes a work life,
and eventually becomes a respected businessman. With the encouragement
of his own family, he satisfactorily ends his quest for news of his

Documented in the first 18 chapters of this historical adventure,
Graham’s early experiences resonate with youthful enthusiasm and the
longing for his own family. The next five chapters cover his coming of
age, but lack the verve and exuberance of the early section. Twenty
years rush by in the final two chapters. Hunter creates an appealing
young protagonist, developing his character with well-paced prose and
realistic dialogue. Secondary characters help to highlight Graham’s
evolution from incorrigible runaway to responsible student and adult.
Clearly, Hunter wished to resolve Graham’s quest for his mother;
however, the rushed nature of the final chapters detracts from some
finely crafted description of the life and dreams of an unwanted child
in postwar England. No credits are provided for the book’s six
black-and-white photographs. Recommended with reservations.


Hunter, Bernice Thurman., “The Runaway,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,