Nathan’s Run by John Gilstrap


Pros: exciting story

Cons: unrealistic portrayal of a child, extreme levels of violence

It’s a thriller.  But it’s a bit different from the typical book in the genre.

I’m referring to Nathan’s Run by John Gilstrap.  What makes it so different?  It’s about a twelve-year-old.

The premise is as simple as can be.  Nathan escapes from juvie after killing a guard, and is now on the run.  The police are hunting for him and more bodies will pile up before all is said and done.

Simple premise, right?

But trust me, it’s not as simple as it sounds.  Because while we read all about the hunt for Nathan from the point of view of the authorities, it’s the half of the story that’s told from Nathan’s point of view that will tug at your heart.  For we will know the real story.  And trust me, this is not black-and-white.  There are a lot of extenuating circumstances to consider.  And, if nothing else, Nathan’s Run will give its readers a thing or two to think about.

Gilstrap did some clever things. I loved the use of the nationally syndicated radio show to allow Nathan to have a voice to the public.  I enjoyed the legal situation facing the radio station, in terms of whether to give up its phone records or not.  And I very much enjoyed the back-story of the one policeman chasing Nathan who actually wants to consider all of the angles before jumping to any conclusions.

But this is not to say that the perfect – it’s not.  I felt that Nathan’s character was written more like a sixteen-year-old than a twelve-year-old.  Some of his thoughts and actions simply did not read like a child, but someone far wiser.  As a result, his journey felt more like a fantasy ride than an actual thriller.  If he wanted the story to ring of any truth at all, Gilstrap needed to make Nathan a bit older, or he needed to tone him down into more of a typical kid.

Finally, be forewarned – there is an extreme amount of graphic violence in this book. Despite being about a twelve-year-old, this book is NOT for kids.  Given the level of violence, it’s not even for some adults, quite frankly.

Still, Nathan’s Run is an exciting book, and I definitely wanted to know how it would all turn out.  Give it a try, but know going in what you’re in for.

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