Canadian Children's Book Centre's Reviews > Road to Bliss

Road to Bliss by Joan Clark
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Feb 07, 12

Reviewed by Liz Gilbert

Fifteen-year-old Jim Hobbes is disillusioned with urban life and the emotional drama of daily living with his sister and mother. He misses the ongoing presence of his father and the family he had prior to his parents’ separation. He feels confined by school walls and academics. When he escapes a subway car disabled by the Northeast Blackout of 2003, he decides to go on the road, hitchhiking west to experience life. A series of benevolent encounters assist him in his journey and he arrives at an abandoned house, Bliss Farm. Here he must live off the land, stretch his meagre savings and plan for his immediate future.

He finds work at the neighbouring Majestic Farm – home to an extensive, intergenerational religious community led by the Pastor, a charismatic and harsh individual. Jim immediately identifies the community’s inequity between males and females and its repressive and fearful rule based on irrational and fundamentalist beliefs. He befriends the Pastor’s daughter, Miriam, and assists her escape into the outside world, an act which endangers both their lives as well as that of a young child in their charge. He also uncovers the story of the former owners of Bliss Farm and their uneasy relationship with the occupants of Majestic Farm.

This is a satisfying novel which reflects present day media accounts of conservative religious communities at odds with the outside world. Jim’s coming of age and his opportunity to make personal, moral choices is well portrayed.

This story would appeal to middle and high school readers and would initiate discussions about communal tensions between differing belief structures, the roles of women and men, and the right to religious and personal freedoms.

Canadian Children's Book News (Spring 2010, Vol. 33, No. 2)

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