Carl Deuker's novel "Runner" is the story of Chance Taylor, a high school senior who could have been a terrific athlete. However, because his mother left home and his father is an alcoholic, Chance now runs drugs and other contraband to bring money into the house.
Chance seems to have a dream of a lifestyle, living on a boat in the Seattle harbor. However, his dad can barely afford to pay the docking fees, let alone maintain the boat. Because of Chance's worries, running on the cross country team becomes impossible. Chance gets an opportunity to bring in easy cash by delivering packages for strangers. He knows that what he is doing might be illegal, but he likes the money too much to ask questions.
Chance's friend, Melissa, has a completely different lifestyle. She comes from a life of privilege rather than finding herself on the verge of homelessness. While Chance is running drugs for cash and deciding whether or not he will keep breaking the law, Melissa has to figure out how to get admitted to Stanford University.
One important theme in "Runner" is whether ethical choices should be made on the basis of what is right and wrong or for obtaining a short-term reward. Chance chooses to ignore his conscience to earn money, and this decision has a major influence on the outcome of the story.