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Two roads diverged

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost, 1916

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

I have always been intrigued by this Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken.” The intrigue comes not by trying to figure out what Frost had in mind when he wrote it, but what the words bring to my mind and the possibilities offered by both roads and all roads, literally and metaphorically. There are four book selections in this review. Each takes a road, roads diverse and challenging, roads that bring change and build character and provides or forces individuals to push through to something new. Which road intrigues you?

The most traditional of books, “The Railway Girl” by Tania Crosse is a family saga. Tresca and her father Emmanuel are itinerant farm laborers. It was a good harvest, but in celebrations after, a barn catches on fire by Emmanuel’s negligence, and they are fired and forced to travel the road into the big city where a railway is being built. There are jobs, slums to live in and both kind and devious people. Can they forge a new life for themselves and in the process find love, happiness, security and home?

In “The Memory Collectors” by Kim Neville, a new kind of road is carved. Two women have a gift. They can feel the memories from previous owners in objects long used and left abandoned. From antique furniture to a jar of buttons, the memories stir in their minds and hearts. They wonder if they can use them to help and heal others. Use the good memories. But what about the bad ones?

In “The Human Experiment” by Kevin McLaughlin and Craig Martelle, John is left in a world completely alone. The only humans he has ever known, his parents, are now dead. There seems to be no escape, no world beyond that which he knows. All roads leading out of his wilderness are blocked. What does one do when all alone and there are no roads to take? This sci-fi novel has its own twists and turns and it seems John will manage to travel without apparent roads and perhaps not as alone as he has imagined.

The road becomes a winding thrashing waterway in “Once Upon a River,” by Diane Setterfield. The river flows dark and deep. A child is swallowed up, rescued, thought dead, then lives. For various reasons, several of the townsfolk claim her as their own. They have stories to prove it. Fanciful stories. Are they fairy tales? Myths? In this book, beautifully written and woven with the best words, the author meanders the reader down a road to mystery. The answers are quite satisfying.

Two roads diverged, or three or four. Roads of this world and beyond, so big and wide, yet small and intimate at the same time. I stand at the row of books in a library or store, or on an internet page of book possibilities that seem to pass into infinity. So many books to travel by.

Frost seemed sad that he had time for only one choice and he would never come back for that other road. In books, we can travel a myriad of roads, and still have time for more.

Good books. Good reading.

*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.