Top critical review
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A tragic and heartbreaking story!
on July 18, 2012
The Road has won numerous literary awards, including: 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2006 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, 2007 The Quill Award for General Fiction, 2010 Puddly Award for Fiction, 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee, 2007 Believer Book Award, 2007 The Rooster - The Morning News Tournament of Books, and 2009 Tähtivaeltaja Award.
The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and is about a man (simply referred to as "the man") and his son (referred to as "the boy"), who are travelling south on "the road" in the hopes that the climate will be warmer. They have a shopping cart to haul their meager supplies, such as blankets and canned food. They are dying a slow death, starving, and the man has to watch his son waste away before his very eyes. As if dying of starvation wasn't bad enough, they need to be on the look-out for the "bad guys": The ones that would resort to cannibalism in order to survive. The man and the boy vow that they would never do such a thing, no matter how bad it gets. They have a pistol for protection, and little else. The man ponders whether his wife did the right thing, taking her own life to avoid the pain and suffering of a slow death or to, perhaps, escape from the depravity of the world. They do encounter other survivors along the way, and the boy shows his kindness towards others by insisting that his father share with the other travellers the little food that they have managed to scrounge up.
The Road is tragic and heartbreaking, and McCarthy describes a lonely and desolate world. The man and the boy struggle to hold onto their own humanity while little is left in the world. At one point, the boy gets sick and the man vows to never leave him. He is prepared to kill himself if his son dies so that he will stay with him, even into death. As a mom, I get that. The scene was very poignant and left me with a lump in my throat. Thankfully, the boy recovers. If it weren't for the boy, I doubt the man would have even had the will to live.
The man also promises to never let any harm come to the boy, and he is even willing to take his own son's life to save him from being murdered and eaten by the "bad guys." This is one part of the book that is particularly haunting:
"Can you do it? When the time comes? When the time comes there will be no time ... Could you crush that beloved skull with a rock?"
The father's love for his son is touching, and he continually shows his compassion for his son by giving him the best of everything. He finds a can of Coca-Cola and insists that the boy drink it all. On another occasion, he found flavoured drink crystals and put it in the boy's water. It gives him pleasure to give these little treats to his son.
The story is a depressing one, and it isn't one where everyone lives happily ever after. I did like the book, but it left me feeling very sad and in a bit of a funk.
Narrator Tom Stechschulte is new-to-me, and I could feel the desperation in his vocal characterization of "the man." I thought his portrayal of the characters was very convincing.
MY RATING: 3 stars!! It was good! I enjoyed it!!