book 6 of 10 for the Book Awards II Challenge (Pulitzer Prize)
genre: post-apocalyptic fiction
This is a heavy, beautifully written story. Life on earth has essentially ended due to some undefined human-provoked catastrophe. All we know is the results - a dead, gray earth. Gray ash covering everything, gray water and gray snow. Even now, in my mind, the entire book is like life with all color removed.
There are very few characters, really only two that we know anything about. And of these two, we don't even know their names. The are "the man" and "the boy." These two together are traveling "the road." The road isn't any specific road and it doesn't really lead anywhere - they are just going toward where they hope it will be warmer and where maybe there are some other of the "good people," as the boy calls them. Their life is a dreary struggle to have food, be warm and stay safe. It's a bleak existence but the conversations between the son and the father add a welcome respite from and addition to their journey.
There is much that is disturbing along the road. Very disturbing. Images that maybe will never leave my mind. Thankfully, beneath the surface, there is more than just death. What is beautiful about this book, to me, is first and foremost the relationship between the man and the boy. The man is a loving, patient and protecting father. His love of his son and desire to somehow eke out a space for them on our dead planet made my heart ache. I tried to put myself in that situation and to live that way alone is one thing. A horrible thing, to be sure, but it's a completely different kind of suffering than to have to make your way with a child. To have to hide your fear and frustration, to not just find safety for and food for one but two. The character of "the boy" is what made this book an amazing read to me - he saw the world and their lot with such different eyes than his father, who had known what the world was before it was gray and lifeless. His grace and goodness made this an amazing story.