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OFF THE ROAD by Nina Bawden

OFF THE ROAD

By Nina Bawden

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1998
ISBN: 0-395-91321-7
Publisher: Clarion

Bawden (Granny the Pag, 1996, etc.) veers into near-future fantasy in an occasionally heavy-handed novel. In the year 2035, Tom lives with his parents and his grandfather, whom he calls Gandy, in an enclosed environment. They are kept safe from the natural world, which Tom perceives as wild and dangerous. In his world, every family has one child, the words “brother” and “sister” are terrible slurs, children are catered to, and the Oldies, e.g., Gandy, are taken away to Memory Theme Parks when they reach 65, never to be heard from again. When Gandy escapes to the wilds outside, Tom follows him, and finds a world of farming, husbandry, extended families, and many children. He is enchanted by a cousin, baby Joshua, and astounded that elders are respected and admired; he begins to question everything he believes. Bawden takes shots at vegetarians, child-focused families, those who believe elders have neither brains nor emotions, big government, and those who fear ideas of any kind (books are frowned upon by the “Protectors”). While the storyline is occasionally muddled, and some elements (e.g., the rigorously managed society and its dark underside) well-worn, the cast is worth knowing: Tom, Gandy, and the family Outside capture and hold interest. (Fiction. 9-13)