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Book Reviews by NBPL Teens

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Review by Yoojin

Post Date:05/01/2022 9:00 am

the road book cover

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road reveals the story of a father and a son as they try to make their way through post-apocalyptic America. They must survive off of nothing but a few scraps of food they can scavenge out of the soil, if lucky, as they trek along a seemingly endless road. The boy, not even close to ten years old, eventually becomes emotionally numb to the sight of the howling corpses that cover the burnt road before him. The remaining survivors in the country are either on the verge of dying, are man-hunting savage criminals, or are, by rarest occasion, groups of “good guys,” like the father and son, who are also just trying to hold out in the deserted world until they can no longer walk further. The destination of these characters is simply “the coast,” yet the distance and unclarity of the destination might as well make it nonexistent. The characters must also avoid and hide from the criminal men, only a single bullet left to use if an encounter called for defense against the robbers and murderers. Despair, fear, and dreams of the normal past (as well as dreams of future death) become a daily accepted aspect of life.  

Yet, in the midst of a constantly dark and hopeless atmosphere lies the small spark of hope and affection that remains ignited between the father and son. Both mean the world to each other, and their love and dependence on each other’s presence keeps them sustained and motivated to push forward along the otherwise despair-filled road. Although readers can’t help but be saddened by the boy’s maturity and his comfortability with the idea of death, the boy’s constant curious questions and observations of his surroundings reveal the inherent youthful energy that struggles to remain alive in his character. The father attempts to give his son the most he can of a normal childhood experience during their long journey along the road. Thus, despite the short, even cold, dialogue between the two characters, their deep father-son connection filled with shared love, affection, regrets, and fear become more evident as the journey unfolds.  

This book is set in total devastation, but these two nameless characters directly expose the raw nature of human capability: the destructive nature of humans as revealed by the postapocalyptic conditions and the remaining ruthless man-hunters, the desperate determination of the father and son, and the small spark of loving tenderness that keeps the two main characters pushing for survival against all odds. When I began reading this book, the dull, demoralizing, harsh, and messy atmosphere consumed me and I initially was repelled by the beginning of the book due to the constant gloom present in the setting. However, as I continued to read, I realized the presence of a personal warmth and light within the main characters’ interactions managing to shine through the depressing setting, and I soon couldn’t let the book down. Therefore, I would rate this book a 8/10, and I would recommend the book to anyone of any age who is looking for a raw and personal depiction of human nature 


Check out The Road from the Newport Beach Public Library! 

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