Summary: Fourteen year-old Winston’s bad behaviour at home and at school has his mother at her wits’ end. Following a suggestion from the police officer who brought Winston home from his latest runaway attempt, Winston’s mother sends him to live with his father for a bit. About to leave on a trip to Nova Scotia to follow a lead on a story, Winston’s father takes Winston along. It’s 1980 and it turns out the story is about a young, unknown man named Terry Fox who is on the cusp of changing the country and perhaps Winston too.
Number of Pages: 236
Age Range: 12-14
Review: Eric Walters blends fiction and non-fiction to create a classic story about one of Canada’s most beloved heroes, Terry Fox.
Keeping in mind that my experience of Terry is second-hand through movies and books, I thought Walters did a superb job in his portrayal of Terry and his friend Doug Alward. I could imagine Terry Fox saying the words and dialogue that Walters wrote. I especially liked the way Walters put more of the focus on Doug, because his role in the Marathon of Hope is often undervalued. The message about best friends fighting but still being friends was honest and realistic, but is also somewhat overlooked as an aspect of Terry’s journey. Walters truly captured that Terry was an average guy doing an extraordinary thing, being supported by extremely loyal friends and family.
The only problem was that the parts of the book featuring Terry Fox and Doug Alward were so well done that I found myself just wanting to read more about them instead of Winston. Although I suppose it’s a bit like Blood Brothers in Louisbourg by Philip Roy, Run works as an exploration of a historical event because the narrator is an observer and is not directly involved. Also, part of Walters’ purpose in writing the book was to educate a new generation about Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope. Placing Winston as the narrator is effective because he’s just an average kid that others will be able to relate to.
I would recommend this to any teen who has a limited knowledge of Terry Fox as an introductory piece, but I do think it is geared toward a younger teen audience. The new Puffin Classic edition (published in 2014) where I found my quotes has an excellent introduction by Deborah Ellis.
“The Marathon of Hope is about searching for a cure for cancer. It is also a manifestation of the hope we share with all of humanity – that the world as we know it, with its pain, sorrow and injustice, can be made better through our combined intentions and efforts.” – from the introduction by Deborah Ellis in Run by Eric Walters, page vii
“You know, the only people who don’t make mistakes are those who are too timid to try new things. Stay bold, take chances and be prepared to make bold mistakes.” – Winston’s father from Run by Eric Walters, page 30
“You have to understand that I’m one of the lucky ones . . . the people who survived cancer. I can remember those who weren’t so lucky. I’ve been there in the cancer ward with other people . . . this is my way of trying to make the hurt stop so that other people don’t have to suffer or die.” – Terry Fox from Run by Eric Walters, page 54
“‘Nice people,’ Doug said. ‘It’s like everybody in the whole province of Newfoundland is friendly.'” – Doug Alward from Run by Eric Walters, page 58
“‘By running like this I let people know that cancer can be beaten . . . that life can go on . . . that you define people by their ability and not their disability.'” – Terry Fox from Run by Eric Walters, page 58
“‘If I stopped every time I felt a little bit of pain I’d still be somewhere in Newfoundland. Or probably I’d have given up when I was running laps and I’d still be back home. Pain is just part of it. Tired is just part of it. You have to run through those things.'” – Terry Fox from Run by Eric Walters, page 158
“‘I was lucky, I got cancer, but I survived. Today I feel privileged to even be alive. But as I think back to those first few months, how scared I was, not knowing whether I would live or die, I remember promising myself that should I live I would rise up to meet this new challenge face to face and prove myself worthy of live, something that people take for granted.'” – Terry Fox from Run by Eric Walters, page 172
“‘He gave us a dream as big as our country,’ I said, cutting him off.” – Winston from Run by Eric Walters, page 198
“‘Somewhere the hurting must stop . . . and maybe that place is here.'” – Terry Fox from Run by Eric Walters, page 205