Adam of the Road is a typical YA novel about a mischievous journey of a young unmade minstrel in the enchanting setting of Medieval England. I read this book merely out of the necessity to teach it, but there was certainly something in the story I could take home.
Quick summary: Eleven-year-old Adam is waiting for his father, Roger the minstrel, to come back from the journey and takes him from the Abbey. Aside from his huge pride as an aspiring son of a minstrel, Adam has three things dear: his harp, his dog Nick and his best friend Perkin. The story basically traces his journey that has set in motion as a series of events takes away all of his treasures. Right in the beginning, Adam is forced to part from Perkin as Roger comes back and takes Adam with him. Then, Adam lost his beloved Nick to his father’s preposterous gambling. During his breathless chase to the kidnapper, Adam soon finds himself that he has lost his father, too. Stripping of everything he holds dear, Adam is forced onto the road, beginning to learn to be a true minstrel who reveres it.
“A road’s a kind of a holy thing,” Roger went on. “That’s why it’s a good work to keep a road in repair, like giving alms to the poor or tending the sick. It’s open to the sun and wind and rain. It brings all kinds of people and all parts of England together. And it’s home to a minstrel, even though he may happen to be sleeping in a castle.” (52)
Adam takes the unwilling and unprepared journey in order to heartfeel the ‘holiness’ of the ‘road’ as the centre of a minstrel’s life he has always dreamed about. The road comes to his life once he has let go of everything that is dear to him, including his family and friends. An end marks a new beginning… For an aspiring minstrel like himself, the variety of the people he met on the road–the lovesick nobleman Simon, the horseriding page Hugh, the God-loving elders Walter and Prudence, the vulgar minstrels de Veseys–should give more to Adam than his Perkin, Nick and harp. Losing things behind should come as a prerequisite of meeting something new–a must-have attitude for any travelers.
Travelling is an unsaid dream of mine. When I had no vision of future, I thought about departing to some unvisited place for a hundred times in a day. Yes I have been to places but I was pretty much sheltered by the financial support of my parents and physical guidance of my sturdy brother. I don’t feel I have ever been on a ‘true journey’, per se, in which I left everything behind in order to discover new things and “grow” into a new person. (My last trip to Ottawa was something closest to it but it was way too brief to be considered. But it certainly was a good start ;))
Somehow the story inspired me to imagine myself–or a character based on myself– being liberated from petty worries about jobs and marriage and take off to any place she has been longing to go–the Himalayas or the European continent. Gosh, it reminded me of another long-forgotten dream of being a writer. I should begin my story as soon as I get on the journey.
Gray, Elizabeth Janet. Adam of the Road. New York: Puffin Books. 2006.