Road to Bliss by Joan Clark

After a city wide blackout, fifteen year old Jim decides it’s time to leave home and head west. He catches a ride with a trucker and ends up in a remote area of the prairies called Bliss, living in an abandoned home. While living there he meets Miriam, a young girl who lives on the neighbouring farm called Majestic Farms. In an attempt to get closer to Miriam, Jim takes a job at Majestic Farms and discovers that Miriam is part of an extreme religious cult. When Miriam decides to leave and seeks Jim’s help, Jim will discover the importance of family and his own capabilities in this coming of age tale.

Road to Bliss is a beautifully written story. While extreme religious movements are nothing knew to YA, this one stands apart as the story is told from both the male perspective and the outsider perspective. I thought it was refreshing and fascinating. Jim is a likable and relatable character and any reader will enjoy watching his growth over the course of the book. His thoughts on life, himself and Majestic Farm are especially compelling. One of the things I found really interesting about Road to Bliss was that Joan Clark did not give the names of any of the places in the story. Usually it bugs me when Canadian authors mask their Canadian settings. However, I felt that by relying on descriptions and not giving any location identification it meant that the story was easily transferable to anywhere.  I thought it made the story much more accessible. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Road to Bliss and I highly recommend it to both genders.

You might like Road to Bliss if you enjoy books with: a slower paced plot, third person narrative, strong characterization where the main character spends a great deal of time on personal reflection, captivating settings, male voice.

Other books by Joan Clark: The Word for Home, Latitudes of MeltHand of Robin Squires

If you enjoyed Road to Bliss, you might also like: Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee, Almost Home by Jessica Blank, What Would Emma Do? By Eileen Cook

Non-fiction Connection; the Prairies: Prairie Builders: Reconstructing America’s Lost Grasslands by Sneed Collard, The Prairies by Kate Riggs,

Rating: W 3.5/4   C 4/4   P 3.5/4   O 3.5/4   PP 2/4    CR 4/4

Grade:  JS

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