aka YA Literature

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is a about a nameless man and his young son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Some time ago, the world was destroyed by some type of cataclysmic fire. Only a few people remain on earth, and they live as scavengers. The man and the boy are following a road, and they live in a constant state of vigilance and fear that someone will take their few meager possessions and/or kill them. They are truly living in a Hobbesian State of Nature. Many of the remaining people have taken to cannibalism, and they encounter the evidence of this a few times in the book. They have to try to find the last remnants of uncontaminated food in buildings and homes they come across, even though they have all been scavenged long ago. Although they are walking with some seeming purpose, it is not clear that they will ever reach a safe destination; they may only be walking to the south for the winter. It is about the struggle to survive when there is really nothing to live for except survival itself.

I read this book because it is on the 2008 Tayshas list. From what I knew about the book, it didn't seem like a book teens would enjoy. Now that I've read it, I am still unsure. I think I could probably booktalk it pretty well. There is this really scary and disturbing scene where the man and the boy come upon a house where it is evident that some people had been staying. The boy is frightened and begs his dad to leave, but they are starving and the man needs to pry open the basement door to see if there is any food there. They discover all these people trapped down there who start crying, "Help us! Help us!" Man, just thinking about that scene now days later still creeps me out. But I don't want to get students to read it if they won't like it. I would say some teens might like it, but it is extremely bleak and disturbing. After the first few pages, the tension of the book remains very high, and it definitely deserves its Pulitzer Prize. I felt the constant desperation and danger throughout the story.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I think you've hit on a few terms that you should keep in your booktalk: disturbing,desperation and danger. Don't kids love that stuff? Here are some others from Amazon's descriptions that you could work in: frightening, apocalyptic, cannibal armies.