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May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

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Published by arbarne2
Book editorial on Peter Troy's inaugural novel, "May the Road Rise Up to Meet You."
Book editorial on Peter Troy's inaugural novel, "May the Road Rise Up to Meet You."

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Published by: arbarne2 on Apr 22, 2013
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07/15/2013

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Book Editorial
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You
By Peter Troy. 386 pp.Published by Random House, Inc. New York. 2012. U.S. $26.95
“And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” This
final phrase from the Old Irish Blessing that Peter Troy quotes in the title of hisinaugural novel,
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You
, describes the spirit within thefour characters whose paths are destined to cross during the American Civil War.Troy first introduces Ethan, a twelve year old in rural Ireland who barelysurvives the Potato Famine before crossing the Atlantic to become a fisherman inNew York. Ethan makes the journey to meet his Da and brudder Seanny in America,
clinging to memories of Th’Old Country and of his sister Aislinn, who
shared a lovefor classic literature with her brother before she died in The Hunger. Troy writes ina thick brogue vernacular that almost requires the sounding out of sentences such
as, “Aunt Em always said it wasn’t really stealin’, just 
doin’ the Lahrds wo
rk for Him,
 feedin’ th’poor and such, like th’loaves an’ fishes in th’Bible
.”The adaptation of the dialect is almost overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s a writing tool that livens the text, especially as other
characters are introduced with dialects unique to their own roots. We meet Micah, atwelve year old slave in South Carolina in 1853, whose Daddy is the finest carpenterin the state, and whose Mama learns him to be literate by drawing letters in flour ontheir countertops. Mary, a slave in North Carolina, has learned to read and write, as
well as speak French when she works on her stitchin’ during the school lessons of 
 
Miss Juss, the daughter of Mary’s Massa. Both Micah and Mary’s lives parallel long
before they meet in that they both posses rare talents that mark them from the rest of the slaves.The fourth character is Marcella, a sharp-witted daughter of a Spanishbusinessman who resembles Louisa
May Alcott’s beloved heroine Jo March in her
eagerness to be like a man and fight against injustices. Defying the laws of herphilandering Papa, Marcella joins ranks with the Ladies Abolition Society andmasterfully wins over $1400 playing poker against plantation owners, which shegives to a black reverend whose church is a major conjunction in the UndergroundRailroad.It is not surprising that Troy is a former high school history teacher as Ethangoes from the Potato Famine in Ireland, to the docks of Red Hook in New York, andeven makes his mark on the battlefield at Antietam. Perhaps one of the greatest universal truths in the
novel is presented by Micah’s d
addy, after the heartbreaking
realization that a deal he makes with their Massa Lereoux to buy his son’s freedom
will not be fulfilled when the Massa dies. He tel
ls his son, “maybe it weren’t theLawd’s plan for him to see his son be free. That maybe that’s gonna be Micah’s thingto do. That someday he’d have a son. And maybe get him free.” It is this realization
that shadows the
until we meet again
” 
hope for Micah and Mary when their paths
cross and they take risks of their own. Ethan’s own dreams of studying at New York 
University are far from reach, but he works hard as a fisherman and soldier anddevelops a passion for a newly discovered career. Like Micah, his
plans don’t go as
hoped and yet his progress is immense.

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