A father and son travel a desperate journey through a nuclear-ravaged and thinly populated America. They are cold, hungry and scared, but the father’s survival skills are honed to a razor’s edge. The small family relies on each other for their very existence – the boy for physical and emotional survival and the father for a reason to exist at all. Each day they face challenges that seem insurmountable – scavenging for edible food, keeping warm in a bitterly cold and grey environment and avoiding the ravenous eyes of human predators – the last of which the boy is afraid his father will eventually become. The boy’s innocence as well as his empathy for living creatures contrasts sharply with the stark, harsh environment and their constant struggle. The horrors the child encounters do not diminish his heart-wrenching need to care for the humans and animals they come across, even if it means putting his own survival in jeopardy. And so, armed with a pistol, two bullets and a shopping carriage filled with scavenged items and rigged with a rearview mirror for protection against stealthy enemies, they painstakingly make their way to the ocean.
One needs to be in right frame of mind to read this book. It is a frightening look at the brutal simplicity of a terrible yet possible future.