The year is 1842, and thirteen-year-old Chris Robertson and his family are struggling to survive as fisherman and farmers in Shetland, a cluster of islands off the northern coast of Scotland. Poverty, hunger, and being in debt is all they’ve known – and, indeed, all they’re likely to ever know – until an unexpected twist of fate changes Chris’s life forever.
When John, Christopher’s devious brother, frames him for the theft of their father’s secret pouch of coins, Chris embarks on a journey to return the coins and clear his good name. But it’s not an easy one, and full of unexpected turns: a stop in prison, the promise of a beautiful girl, a trip aboard a smuggler’s ship, and the clue to finding a stash of gold coins hidden by an American spy some sixty years earlier. And when Chris finally finds his way to New york City, he begins a new life fraught with dangers of its own…
Years ago I found an old shoe box in the back of my father’s closet filled with cassette recordings made by my grandfather, George Robert Christie. He was eighty-four when he made them, and if he hadn’t thought the stories important enough to pass down, nearly all of what we know about my family would have been lost forever. When I heard him say that his grandfather, Robert Christie, “lived on an island in the north of Scotland where they had little ponies with long hair,” I had to know more! This was the moment the idea for THE RUNAWAY’S GOLD started to percolate.
Publisher’s Weekly, March 2015
“Two dissimilar locales—the Shetland Islands and New York City—are the settings for debut author Burack’s ambitious story of 14-year-old Shetlander Christopher Robertson, on the run from the law in his village, where his family barely makes a living as tenant farmers and fishermen. Forced by his father to kill a neighbor’s ewe and framed by his older brother for the theft of his father’s pouch of coins, Christopher—after a stay in prison, among other dangerous escapades—ends up in New York, beholden to one Billy Tweed, on his way to becoming the infamous Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall. Set in 1842 and overflowing with historical detail, the novel makes generous use of dialect, which—along with a plot roving in time and packed with characters—requires concentration, but leads to a rewarding conclusion that intertwines a piece of early American history with Christopher and his Shetland home. Extensive back material explains the background of the Shetland Islands while separating the book’s fictional aspects from those rooted in history.”
Booklist April, 2015
“In the mid-nineteenth century, Christopher Robertson grows up on the damp, desperate, and nearly barren Shetland Islands, crammed into a tumbledown croft with his family as they scrape by on their widower father’s meager earnings. When his brother John steals their father’s hoarded coins, blames Christopher, and bolts for the harbor, Christopher chases after him, only to be caught amid a smuggling operation. While in prison, however, he discovers clues to the whereabouts of an infamous buried treasure, which takes him all the way to New York City. Debut author Burack infuses this gritty tale with plenty of historical detail about both the Shetland Islands and life as an immigrant in Boss Tweed’s New York. From traditional Shetland shoes and the importance of those famously short ponies to the unfair labor practices that contribute to Christopher’s Dickensian experiences, Burack’s careful research into Shetland history clearly shines through.”
School Library Journal, February 2015
“The story showcases the author’s talent for description and pacing…those who [invest in this title] will be well rewarded.”
Kirkus Reviews, March 2015
“Burack’s story moves at an engaging clip with enough thrills and historical detail to please many readers.”