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But Harley still has a conscience--barely. He doesn't strike his sisters; he's been trying to protect them. The oldest is sassy Amber, 16, who's having sex on the living-room couch with townies who abuse her; next is frighteningly stoic 12-year-old Misty, with eyes "a glazed brown like a medicine bottle"; the youngest is adorable Jody, who at 6 pens to-do lists with items such as "PRAY FOR DADDYS SOWL." Overburdened with the practicalities of life, and the ever-mounting losses, Harley has started seeing his own words floating in the air in front of his face. "CLOSURE. TRUTH. MOST GUYS."
This first novel opens well. O'Dell does an impeccable job of making Harley both brutal and forgivable. Here, for instance, he retreats to his basement room: "I lay there until dawn, thinking about Dad, and feeling the same useless frustration I had felt the first time I had seen him piss on a sparkling white drift of pure new snow."
But that delicacy is soon lost, and Back Roads risks becoming an overabundant affair, pitched high, with a roller-coaster trajectory. Harley's anger metamorphoses into an almost bloodthirsty lust for his sexy, middle-aged neighbor, which stirs up myriad forbidden family secrets. Misty, it turns out, has been hiding something. Amber revolts. And even Jody's scribbles turn malevolent. While the writing is good throughout, the tension and plotting assume an unpleasant adolescent posture--bodice-ripping passion and mordant gloom combined. Nonetheless, O'Dell's assured and touching portrait of her protagonist emerges unscathed. You will likely remember luckless, fated Harley Altmyer long after his tsunamic tale has receded. And no matter what the judge decides, you will understand why this impoverished, angry young man was probably the most innocent one of all. --Jean Lenihan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The main character, Harley is so unlikeable that I struggled to read the book. While the story was disturbing in all sorts of ways it was not moving, relatable, enjoyable or... Read morePublished 8 days ago by gayle
This book was okay, the story itself was interesting, but I found the writing style kind of broken and at times a little hard to follow, but I enjoyed itPublished 9 days ago by kelly havlin
The story was exactly what the description promised. I read non-stop and not many books can hold my interest like that.Published 21 days ago by MGLQueen
Sad, weird, depressing. Not at all what I thought it would be. The ending left a lot of questions unansweredPublished 1 month ago by Melody
O'Dell has delivered her guts in this first novel. Harley becomes head of his family of three younger sisters after his mother has killed his father. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lucilla Bellucci
A winner telling the real truth about real rural life having nothing to Hollywood . if the rest of the world saw us like this may they wouldn't hate us as much.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Of the forty mystery novels I have read in the past year, this debut mystery from Tawni O'Dell was unexpectedly the best! Wow, I thought, I have found yet another favorite author. Read morePublished 4 months ago by JAMES VINING