When I was in school I HATED required reading. If I could find a way out of it, I did. If there was a Cliff’s Notes available, I’d read that. If there was a movie version, I’d check that sucker out. Anything to not have to read the books we were assigned!
While this is kinda crazy sad, given my love of reading, I guess my teenaged self wasn’t a fan of classics or being forced to read. But every once in a while teachers would assign something somewhat decent…
I first read The Cay in middle school as part of our exploratory reading (you know, where you got to pick a book that was on a list and take a test on it?) and LOVED it. It was assigned again as a summer reading book the summer before 9th grade.
The Cay tells the story of a young boy who lives on an island during WWII. When his island is attacked by Nazis, he and his mother flee for their home back in the Netherlands. During their voyage the boat is hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat and goes down. The boy is rescued by an older black man named Timothy and the two float on a raft to a small island. Due to a blow to the head, the boy is rendered blind and must rely on Timothy for help, despite his reservations and prejudices against black people.
And then there’s a big hurricane.
There’s really just so much going on in this book – war, prejudice, loss, growing up, death… the themes are universal and timeless. Although I’m sure this wasn’t my first read that dealt with a lot of these themes, I remember them to be especially poignant.
And also… I’m not gonna lie… I love a good book that includes being stranded on an island and learning to live there. Because although I would never actually WANT to do it, I’ve often thought about how I would do it if I were ever stranded on an island. I mean, of course I fantasize it’ll be like the Blue Lagoon, but I have a feeling it would be more like Cast Away and I would make friends with a volleyball.
Oh, and if you’re wondering… I got a 10/10 on my exploratory reading quiz for The Cay. 🙂