Caught reading – Ms Scicluna and Mr Freeman

RECOMMENDATIONS/BOOK REVIEW                                                                    (Staff, 7-9, 10-12)

Both Ms Scicluna and Mr Jeremy Freeman have read and recommended The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s interesting to compare their impressions.

Ms Scicluna

What are you reading? The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Why this book? It caught my attention as it’s just been made into a film and I saw some reviews on it, then a work colleague said she had read it and I asked to borrow it.

What’s it about?

It is about a father and young son’s journey of survival in a post-acpolyptic world and  their relationship.

Has it lived up to your expectations?

It was a great but harrowing read…even more so because I have a son around that age. There are some scenes that are a bit shocking…as people are fighting to survive and take some drastic measures, one of which involves cannibalism.

Would you recommend it to others?

Yes, I think I would with the warning that it is confronting in parts…however that also lends itself to making it a good read.

Mr Freeman’s review:

I was drawn to The Road for many reasons but the key ones were the Cohen brothers’ No Country for Old Men movie and the recommendation from my brother. The movie had a profound impact on me and I was intrigued by its themes. My curiosity of the origin of the film helped to lead me to Cormac McCarthy who wrote the novel that inspired the making of the film. After further research I realized that Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist who is regarded as a modern day genius. With this in mind I began to read his other novels which included The Road. The recommendation from my brother also influenced me as he has the same sensibilities that I have when it comes to novels.

I can’t describe this book without using the word grim. It follows the journey of a father and son across a post-apocalyptic United States. The reason for the barren landscape filled with desperate people is never explained but one feels that something dreadful has occurred.

The boy and his father head towards a destination that has promise and hope but both of them are unaware of what it really is. The father carries the flame (or the tools that can make the flame) and the boy learns about its importance and how to maintain the flame. There is a constant feeling of doom for the two characters and they are faced with many challenges but all along the flame is maintained.

Without giving away the ending it is best to describe the novel as a perfectly constructed insight into a relationship between a man and his son. It highlights, in a beautifully crafted written piece, the complexity of relationships and the underlying influence of our own fear of mortality on relationships.

What can’t be ignored is that the storyline is filled with religious overtones and iconography. The flame itself is poignant but it is the relationship between the father (God) and his son (Jesus) that also adds to the Christian subtext. The hell-like nature of Earth is similar to the descriptions in Revelations from the New Testament. It is, however, the sense of hope and faith that the boy represents which seems to help the reader understand the concept of the faith or,  as Kierkegaard penned, “the leap of faith”. (I am not really sure whether it was the intention of McCarthy to investigate these themes but from my own personal perspective these were the ideas that seem to jump from the pages.)

This book, although only around 300 pages, took me months to read. It was not that I didn’t like the book but more that I was profoundly moved by the relationship of the man and his son. It resonated deeply within me because of my own life. I have a son around the same age as the boy in The Road. The darkness of knowledge which is tempered with the lightness of innocence is a theme that many fathers encounter. I felt that the book explored these so thoroughly that at times my own emotions were overwhelmed and that I needed a break from the book. Once I had read the last page my mind buzzed for days about the concepts that had sprung to my mind through reading this novel. In simple words, the book had meaning for me.

I recommend this book strongly. It is not an easy read but it is worth the effort. I can safely say that this book will be the one that you will think about when confronted with the challenges of life.


Thankyou, Ms Scicluna and Mr Freeman, for sharing your reading with us!

Here are other novels written by Cormac McCarthy.

Interested in other post-apocalyptic novels? Read what Librarything users are recommending here.

Here’s a review of this book in the New York Times.


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