The Walk

Book Review by Kathy Lamb KozenskiTheWalk

Author: Lee Goldberg

Publishing Information:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 22, 2010).  ISBN-10:  1453728988; ISBN-13: 978-1453728987. About $12.00.

Theme:  natural hazard, science fiction, apocalyptic

Number of Pages:  224

Target Audience:  high school students and adults (well-read middle school students, too)

Brief Description:  The “big one” hits southern California (a massive earthquake), and Marty Slack, a network executive in Hollywood must find his way home to the far edge of the San Fernando Valley.  Roads are rubble, buildings have collapsed, gas lines are exploding, fires are erupting, and people are dying everywhere.  Marty’s journey home is about finding strength and character that most of us do not know if we really have.  He encounters people dying and people who need saving among the rubble.  He encounters looters and those taking advantage of people’s misfortunes.  As he is walking, the dam breaks, too, sending all of the rubble washing away more stuff and people.  Humans weigh themselves down with stuff, and it becomes quite evident in this story that stuff is not that important.  Marty is an every-day guy encountering horrific situations, yet, he manages to persevere and continue the journey.

Major Points:  Human/Environment Interaction. Natural Hazards.  The strength and character of the human spirit when times are tough.

Your Opinion: This book contains a few graphic scenes, although, they are not as graphic as some of the video games that students play J  The book, also, contains a bit of foul language, but not too much, and no words that most of today’s middle and high school students have not heard previously:  no vulgar words.  I thoroughly enjoy these types of post-apocalyptic stories.  What choices do the characters make?  What choices would I make IF something like the scenario really happened?  Would humanity totally deteriorate or would people really help one another?  IF you do not like extreme stories where survival can be brutal, you would not like this book.

Ideas for use in the Classroom:

  • The book ties naturally with middle school Earth Science and Physical Geography Academic Standards: natural hazards.  Preparing the students prior to reading the book by reviewing about the Earth/Sun relationship, gravity, tides, continents/tectonic plates, and climate invigorates the students to better understand the story: cause and effect.
  • The book, also, relates to high school courses in terms of Earth Science, Geography (human/environment interactions), Sociology, Economics, and Civics.  Analyze the real-life earthquake data available for southern California; read through disaster preparedness plans.  Apply this information to Indiana:  are we prepared for a large earthquake?
  • Create an Emergency Preparedness Plan for the school/neighborhood/community addressing the issues that Marty faced.  Utilize IndianaMap as a research tool to find imagery and data about your community:  natural resources, population density, roads…  Utilize the Indiana Geological Survey ( website to further research earthquake potential in Indiana.  Research the county’s real Emergency Preparedness Plan that should be publically available. 
  • Invite a geologist to the classroom.  Incorporate the Quake Cottage (Indiana Geological Survey, ) into school activities.
  • Invite a disaster preparedness expert into the classroom.  Participate in an annual disaster training day: volunteers play victims (broken legs, concussion…) usually sponsored by IN Emergency Management, FEMA, or the Salvation Army.
  • Students should create education outreach mechanisms about their findings and solutions and share these materials with the local City/County Council, families, school principals, business leaders, and elected officials.