Tom and Son Jesus, two 12-year-old boys—one black and one white born the same hour of the same day—are best friends, bound by deep ties and who spend their days dreaming, fishing, and trying to escape work. But their fun comes to an abrupt halt when they discover a human bone, which later turns out to be part of the skeletal remains of Son Jesus' long missing father. As sheriff Frank Rucker, a World War II hero, begins an investigation into remains, he unmasks the racially motivated killer known only as Pegleg. The sheriff's findings divide the people of Overton County, forcing a surprising conclusion—or beginning of justice.
Set in the 1940s and using the relationships of two boys—one black and the other white—as a springboard for the beginning of desegregation in the South, The Runaway examines the joys, sorrows, conflicts, and racial disharmony of their historical biased environment.