Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about summer school, the central reason for my enthusiasm revolves around the featured class room novel, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, by Neil Ellwood Peart.

Neil Ellwood Peart is a Canadian musician and author. He is best known as the percussionist and songwriter for the 70's rock band, Rush.
Neil experiences the loss of his daughter, Selena and his wife, Jackie within a year. The devastation he feels leaves him an empty shell of a man without a purpose to live. He realizes that drugs and alcohol provide only temporary relief from the constant aloneness. This realization translates into hitting the road on his motorcycle. Neil has no doubt that he'll survive, but wonders what kind of person he'll be once it's all over.

I had to use the art of persuasion to get this book into the class room, because the normal genre of literature for this setting has been the war novel. This year the titles included; Beowulf, Red Badge of Courage, My Brother Sam is Dead, Rifles for Watie, and All Quiet on the Western Front. Even the rough and tumble boys I teach were getting a bit annoyed with the repeated genre, and pleaded for something different.

I was discussing my predicament with my good friend Robbie. I related to him that I wanted a coming of age book, chock full of self-discovery, hardship not centered around war, something the boys might be able to empathize with. He quickly suggested Neil Peart's book. I was on a mission...how to persuade my boss to allow this book into the class room.

The main character rides a motorcycle...my boss rides a motorcycle...coincidence? I think not...ripened fruit ready for the harvesting! It didn't take long, with a little of Rush playing in the background, pictures of motorcycles...my boss was sold!

The book contains 456 pages, very few illustrations and as I passed it out this morning there lingered some animosity in the air because of it's girth. I do what I always do with this surly crowd...ignore it. Direct confrontation is a really bad idea, normally you need to apply a smile, pretend to have a hearing problem and continue on.

After the grumbling ceased...I began reading the first chapter. Not a sound could be heard except the lull of my voice resonating throughout the room. Every eye glued to the page in front of them, attentiveness abounded...the boys were hooked.

We read through chapter one, where we found out about the death of his
immediate family. We discovered Neil's shell like existence of no longer having a purpose to live. We learned that Neil had some spark in him, a baby soul that he needed desperately to nurture. Neil used a metaphor likening his infant soul to an unsettled baby requiring consoling by taking a ride, hoping that the motion will quiet his unrest.

Neil had come to a point in his life that he didn't "like" anything anymore. Chapter one ends with Neil seeing these two rocks jutting out of the water that had always reminded him of ducks. He then realized that he "liked" these rocks. He decided that he has to recreate his world, one that his little baby soul would be comfortable living in.

3 comments:

Robbie said...

Wait until he reaches the elderly couple...I know you will be captivated by this story of human discovery...God Bless!

Robbie

Cheap Tricks and Costly Truths said...

Robbie, I'm touched and awed by the wonderful humans in my life...thank you for being a part of it.

Robbie said...

I sit back and listen to the many diverse songs that are RUSH and one thing remains as an underlying theme...humanity. Everything is concerning the human "being". Neil is a hero....