My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(I’ve been ruminating for over a week now on how to do this book justice in a review. It’s intimidating trying to say something fresh and new about a National Bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner by an author, Cormac McCarthy who is almost universally loved and respected.
And so much has been written about this book already, I feel simply like a tiny drop of color in an ocean of reviews. That said, to not talk about this book would be to ignore it’s impact and importance. So I will say what I feel I must.)
In The Road, McCarthy takes a horrifyingly austere look at a post-apocalyptic America where ash and fires cover the landscape, the sun is blotted out of the winter sky and food is non-existent. He tells the story of a man and his young son, barely surviving on an endlessly painful journey towards a safe haven neither of them is sure exists. Within this framework, McCarthy manages to create something truly beautiful.
He paints a picture of utter hopelessness, of starvation, of death and destruction, of humanity driven to the edge. And yet, through all this the book holds tightly to a glimmer of hope, unwilling to let go even when hope has long passed out of sight.
It’s hard to imagine living in this world. Painful. Frightening. However, the characters must and we as the readers, guiltily content in our warm beds and full stomachs are therefore obliged to follow.
The language of the book is nearly poetry. The heaviness of the subject matter is drowned in descriptions of ugliness so lovely that the book is nearly impossible to put down. Tender moments between a father and a son that are heart-breaking and compelling at once show humanity’s ability to transcend place and time.
The character’s, though utterly nameless and remarkably terse, are extraordinary in their heart and resilience. When the journey seems impossible, giving up inevitable, these two find the strength to carry on. There are lessons to be learned here. Many. But few more powerful than the power of the human spirit to endure. Comparisons to our own life lie pitifully silent in their scope.
In the end, McCarthy has taken us on a bleak adventure that we pray never comes to fruition, and we leave knowing love and hope, if nothing else of this world we call our home, will somehow, and against all odds survive.