Disturbing My Universe
(A Book Review of Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War)
I’m writing this review in anguish and in tears.
At first I couldn’t imagine myself getting interested about this kid who refuses to sell chocolates during a school’s annual fund-raising event. But as the pages were turned all too quickly, I find myself deeply engrossed, on the edge of my seat, clinging on to every word, anticipating each chapter with bated breath. I suppose The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier eludes description; as if to summarize it was a gross disrespect to you who’s reading this review in case you want to pick this book up, because I want you to suffer the same anguish that I felt, to cry the same tears I shed after reading this brilliant masterpiece. It is a book that boldly challenge us about the folly of conformity and peer pressure. It dares us to courageously face the question: “How can we resist?”
For the life of me, I just can’t imagine how I would’ve reacted to this book should I happen to read it during my teens. Now I now why this book has been constantly attacked by censors and is one of the most banned and challenged books in America. I’ll tell you, its protagonist’s sexual musings is just the tipped of the ice burg. This is not your regular YA book for it does not concern itself on the banal matters adolescence grapple with, but on the resonating psychological and moral issues of the larger human condition. The book’s climax and its “uncompromising ending” will jolt you, shatter you, and break you. Like The Lord of the Flies it is a work of stunning impact about the monstrous and unfathomable power of evil; a book that will linger with you long after you close its pages, an unforgettable story in every measure.
Right now I’m still thinking of them. Archie, Emile and Brother Leon. It staggers the mind thinking how more are they capable of for I think the book has only given me a glimpse of what they can do. Their clutches far exceeds the prep school they inhabit for their very presence is palpable; if you would just give a pittance of attention in your surroundings you’ll know what I’m saying.
Most of all I think of Jerry. How he profoundly affected me, how his story has become a part of me. The one who taught me that to resist is to assist; the one who dared me to disturb my universe! And right now I’m still uncertain how will I do so, for the fear of the consequences of my action haunts me. What will I gain if do defy the status quo?
Only when we a make choice and stood firm on our conviction do we gain hold of our humanity in spite of inexorable defeat. But if humans have the courage to stand together with the aid of self-transcending strength and love perhaps good can win.
As I wrap up this review my eyes wander at the bar of Hershey’s chocolate at my side. I know eating it will bring a bitter sweet solace.
Published by Dell-Laurel Leaf
(Mass Market Paperback, 2000 Edition)
Started: June 4, 2010
Finished: June 6, 2010