Theodore Boone: The Fugitive
By Barbara Lawrence,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Suspenseful installment explores death penalty, immigration.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Theodore Boone books are packed with information about the legal system and in particular courtroom law. Would-be lawyers get a good glimpse of the role of the courts and lawyers as well as personal legal rights. In this book, Theo and his family debate mature topics such as the death penalty and undocumented immigrants.
Theo and his family regularly help their community by volunteering in a homeless shelter. Theo tries to do what's right even when it isn't easy.
Positive Role Models
As this series progresses, Theo has become a much more interesting and developed character. He's faced with the sorts of dilemmas most tweens and young teens face and still tries to fight for what's right and to support others. He and his parents volunteer once a week at the local homeless shelter.
Violence & Scariness
The murder in question is a bloodless strangulation, and not many other gruesome details are described either at the crime scene or in court. A couple of shady characters are threatening.
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Products & Purchases
Theo eats Cheerios. iPods and other technology are mentioned but not emphasized.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Theo's Uncle Ike, a disbarred lawyer, usually has a beer in the afternoon and looks as if he lives a hard life. He plays a weekly poker game and drinks regularly with his buddies.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Fugitive is the fifth installment in John Grisham's Theodore Boone series. This time, characters debate more mature topics, such as the death penalty and undocumented workers. Although there's very little actual violence, this is a murder mystery, so there's mention of a strangulation, and the prime suspect has escaped and is hiding out. Some very sketchy characters threaten Theo, and the involvement of the FBI and criminals may be too frightening for younger children and some tweens. Theo knows the rules but increasingly ignores them when they get in the way. In particular, he lies to his parents and teachers when following a case. Although he usually confesses in the end, he doesn't always, and he also doesn't always get caught or suffer any consequences for his lying. These situations help Theo's character seem more like a real teen and less two-dimensional than in the earlier books.
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What's the Story?
On an eighth-grade class trip to Washington, D.C., Theo, now 13, sees Pete Duffy, the defendant in the previous book's murder trial, who had skipped town and is hiding out. Using his detective skills, Theo follows him on the subway, only to lose sight of him. With the help of his Uncle Ike, Theo contacts the FBI, which helps extradite Duffy back to Strattenburg to face trial. As is typical of this lawyer-in-training, Theo manages to attend Duffy's trial as well as communicate with and influence the key witness for the prosecution.
Is It Any Good?
Like all good detective stories, this one is hard to put down. The suspense will keep all ages engaged. As is typical of the Theodore Boone series, there are a lot of good insights about the law in THE FUGITIVE. And there's always a little humor with Theo's frequent trips to animal court to help out friends with animal disputes.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the death penalty. What are your family's values and religious beliefs around this issue?
How do you think The Fugitive compares with other books in the series? How has Theo's character developed over time?
Do undocumented people from other countries have a right to work in the United States? How does that affect American workers? Why do these foreign workers leave their home countries?
- Author: John Grisham
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Group
- Publication date: May 12, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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