On the Run
A book review for parents
This Christian adventure book (with an element of science fiction) is the first in "The Elijah Project" series by Bill Myers (with James Riordan), published by Zonderkidz.
On the Run is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
The Dawkins are a family on the run, pulling up roots four times in six years. Elijah Dawkins, an inexplicably silent 6-year-old, was born with a supernatural ability to perform miracles and thus becomes the target of three thugs from an evil organization pursuing his family in order to catch him. Acting as decoys, Elijah's parents flee home when the criminals are closing in and the children are away. As they lead the thugs away from their home, they hope their kids will figure out what's going on and make their own escape from the trio of bumbling bad guys. The children elude the thugs for a time, but later they are lured into a trap set by the evil Shadow Man because their parents are used as bait. This is where the authors abruptly end the story.
The parents always include Bible verses in notes to their children; the verses later serve as comfort. Zach, Piper and Mom pray during tense moments. The reader wonders whether Elijah is meant to parallel the life of Jesus when Elijah brings to life a dead dog, heals an injured girl and multiplies hamburgers and fries. Mom recalls when she was pregnant with Elijah. A crazy man foretells the amazing things Elijah will do one day and the Bible talks about him. From time to time, an unknown old man (somewhat of a guardian angel) appears from nowhere and helps the children.
In the absence of parents, 16-year-old Zach, the oldest, is the least responsible and often makes bad decisions. His 13-year-old sister, Piper, is the smart, tough, responsible one who looks out for the welfare of the family, especially Elijah. Mom and Dad offer them no explanations about why they suddenly relocate the family, though as a maturing teen, Piper realizes a connection between their sudden relocations and Elijah.
Other Belief Systems
A thug totes a gun. One scene describes how he shoots off the head of a toy dog to silence its mechanical bark. The evil, hissing Shadow Man shrieks and throws Dad across the room. Later, Shadow Man's fingers wrap around Mom's head (a mind control method). Her eyes shudder and she collapses.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What other steps might Piper have taken rather than beating up the boy on the bus?
Was deducting the boy's dental expenses from Piper's allowance an effective punishment? Why or why not?
What would you do as Piper? As Piper's parents?
- Cody's friend, Willard, recalls a time when two girls physically fought over Cody.
What do you see wrong about obsessing over a person to that degree?
Have you experienced feelings like Piper had for Cody (wobbly knees, dry mouth, trouble breathing)?
What does the Bible say we should think about in Philippians 4:8?
To whom do you think this Bible verse refers?
- Why do you think the three bad guys continue to do what Shadow Man wants?
Do you think they might ever change, or will they always be aligned with evil?
- Why do you think Mom and Dad won't tell the kids the reason they move so often?
How old do you think the kids should be before they know the truth?
- In this story, the parents leave the house with only a note for the kids.
How would you feel if you came home and I was gone?
- Can you think of a way the kids might have escaped from the bad guys, besides stealing the RV?
Are there times when it's ok to steal or do something that's illegal?
- When Piper is searching for Elijah in the hospital, she begins to feel lost and very alone. Her parents had given her a Bible verse (Matthew 28:20) for just such times.
When are some times you felt alone?
What did you do to help yourself cope — pray, focus on helping someone else, cry?
- The second Bible verse that Mom and Dad sent the kids is Romans 8:28.
Why do you think they choose that verse when they know that evil forces were after them?
What good has come about during the kids' mishaps?
- Mom and Dad told the kids not to try and find them, but Zach decides they should anyway, even though there may be a trap.
How would you handle this?
Does obedience matter, even during dangerous times?
Look up Ephesians 6:1-3.
What does it mean to obey your father and mother?
How is honoring your parents different than obeying?
- The evil that is personified by Shadow Man knows how to exploit a person's weaknesses.
Since we all have weaknesses, what defense do we have against this?
What does the apostle Paul tell us about the spiritual forces of evil and how we should protect ourselves (Ephesians 6:11-18)?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.