by Cormac McCarthy
completed October 2010
I've been wanting to read this book for a while. I've seen it everywhere. I finally found it at my teeny tiny library. I happened to be there when someone returned it. I gladly snapped it up and took it home. As a bit of background, as a reader, I like to know as little as possible about a book before I read it. I don't read the book jackets or summaries on Amazon. I read blog posts on books, but always skip the summaries if it is a book that I know I want to read. I like to be surprised. And surprised I was when I started reading The Road. I was already in bed and had just finished another book. I picked The Road up with the intention of only reading for a few minutes. I think I got through the first page before turning to my husband and saying, "This book is not about what I expected." I know it's strange, but I love being caught off-guard like that.
The Road is about a post-apocalyptic world. It's been many years since a disaster destroyed the earth and the narrator and his son are traveling south on the road during the winter. Not much actually happens during the book, but there is a built-in suspense based on the fear of what could happen. Will they find food? Will they run into others? Will they find shelter from the snow?
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a compelling read, but I don't know how satisfied I felt at the end. I'm sure there are some that say that the ending is bittersweet, but I see it as utterly hopeless. They are still facing the same challenges as at the beginning.
Throughout the book there are no quotation marks. I understand that this is a stylistic choice by the author, but that combined with two unnamed male main characters (and many other minor male characters), resulted in confusion. You get "he said..." and "he said..." for an entire page and it starts to get confusing as to which "he" the author is referring. I found myself breaking the flow of my reading to go back and re-read passages because I couldn't tell who was doing or saying what.
Part of my hesitation with recommending this book is the content. There are deeply disturbing things happening in this book. At one particularly disturbing passage about two-thirds through the book, I had to literally put the book down and walk away from it for a while. The Road portrays a disconcerting view of human nature. I'm more optimistic in my own views of humanity so it didn't seem as realistic.
The Road won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. I can understand how people are moved by this book. I was more disturbed by it than anything. It's not one of my favorites, but I don't regret reading it. I don't think it is for everyone because of the disturbing subject matter, but it is a worthwhile read.