Thursday, June 26, 2008

Guest Blogger - Heather Johnson

The Cay: A Timeless Classic by Theodore Taylor

I remember when I was in middle school and The Cay was one of the most popular books in our English classes. I can picture Timothy with his dark skin and white hair standing on the beautiful white-sanded beach. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, my class never read it. Recently, I went back and picked up a copy of The Cay and read it. I’m ecstatic that I did. I don’t know if it was the cover or the word, “cay,” that stuck with me. Regardless of what drew me back to this short novel, I’m a better person for reading it.

Theodore Taylor penned this novel about forgiveness and equality aimed at the young adult. The language is easy to follow and the descriptiveness employed really makes the reader feel like he or she is stuck on the cay with Timothy and Phillip. The Cay takes place off the island of Curacao in the Bahamas during World War II. Phillip is a young boy, about 12, who is on a ship with his mother headed for the United States. They are leaving Curacao as there is unrest on the Dutch island as fears about attacks from the Germans abound. Timothy is a crew member on the ship, a laborer.

The ship is attacked by Germans and Phillip is separated from his mother and winds up on a raft in the middle of the ocean with Timothy. Phillip grew up very sheltered and his mother, in particular, was wary of black people. Timothy is getting on in years and does everything he can to help Phillip, who has lost his eyesight, stay safe. This is a tale about survival and, in order to survive, Phillip needs to put aside his inherent racism and work together with Timothy if they ever to reach safety.

This is a great story for young adults as there is certainly enough adventure to grab their attention and they learn about what is needed to survive in this world. They learn that racist thoughts can only hinder people when they are stripped from every convenience of their regular, day-to-day lives. Phillip comes full circle in this story and realizes that we are all human beings in this world just trying to make it and harboring ill will towards someone for no legitimate reason does more harm than good. I realized, as I read The Cay so many years after leaving middle school, that this is a worthwhile story for readers of all ages and wish that I had the privilege of reading it when I was in my formative years!


This article was contributed by Heather Johnson, who is a regular writer on the subject of Concord Law School Reviews. She welcomes your questions, comments and writing job opportunities at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Thanks for the article Heather!

*Mrs. Hill's note: If you like THE CAY, there is a companion novel called TIMOTHY OF THE CAY.