* CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
After civilization has ended, a man and his son make a perilous journey south seeking safety from the dangers of the new world. In this new life, there is no food, shelter or human contact without the threat of violence and death. In this new life, there is absolutely nothing left at all.
The Road shook me to the core. I cried and couldn’t sleep imagining this world becoming a reality because I truly believe it could come down to this nothingness. How much the book devastated me is a testament to the raw, gut-wrenching writing of the author.
The story is horrific in its detail of what animals humans can become in order to survive. I will never forget some of the images in the story.
The Road is a quiet, yet powerful story that I’m glad I read. While I don’t enjoy imagining the death of civilization, I believe we need cautionary tales like this to remind us of the fragility of humanity and how we need to hold onto it.
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The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
Taking place in the early twentieth century, a young girl is isolated from society by her overbearing father, the owner of a museum of curiosities on Coney Island. Her life becomes unexpectedly connected to a photographer from the Lower Eastside who is investigating the disappearance of a factory girl, a man she has loved since first laying eyes on him.
Alice Hoffman weaves a fascinating tale of the working class poor of New York. Her characters range from immigrants to street kings, factory workers to freak show performers. All of them with stories of sadness and stories of hope.
I didn’t buy into the supposedly magical romance between the hero and heroine. They were obviously going to be together and it was the least interesting thing about the story. I actually thought many of the secondary characters and their stories were more compelling.
The mystery of the missing girl helped to propel the plot, but I didn’t find it very engaging. What I enjoyed the most about the book was the rich history of New York described by the author. Overall, the book was good, yet somehow not very satisfying.
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Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
In 1976, Dana is an African-American woman who is celebrating her birthday with her Caucasian husband, Kevin. Dana suddenly finds herself pulled back in time to a plantation in the early 1800s where she saves the life of a young boy, Rufus. When Dana realizes Rufus is a distant ancestor, she decides she needs to pretend to be a slave in order to keep an eye on the troublesome boy.
I really liked that Kindred was unlike any slave story I have read previously and it had the unique perspective of an independent woman who had enjoyed rights and freedom, but now has them stripped away.
I frequently became frustrated with Dana and her naive belief that she could change Rufus no matter how many times he showed her his true colours. She gained the trust of many on the plantation, but didn’t listen to anyone about how stupid she was behaving.
I thought Kindred was a clever mash-up of slave story and time travel adventure. We never really learn the mechanism that sends Dana back and forth through time, but it’s beside the point. Through Dana’s eyes we get a modern view of the internalization and acceptance of slavery.
What books have devastated you? What are you reading? Share with me your thoughts.