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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.
Took me a long time to pick up one of Tawni O'Dells books but once I did I wanted to read them all. This was a wonderful book, descriptive, characters believable, and a great... Read morePublished 2 months ago by WendyMac
The book didn't keep me hooked. The story was okay. I wasn't shocked at the end. I guessed everything before it happened. No shocks in this book.Published 2 months ago by alycia sutherland
Superbly written, no criticism of the craft. It was so dark, I just felt a little ill at the end. The author is a wonderful writer, the subject matter was too raw for me.Published 2 months ago by Barbara Tanner
This is a good read but the subject matter is very disturbing. I may not have in fact read it if I had really known what it's about. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Elaine Lucke
Says it all. Seem as if O likes to be down. Very sick story about families and a weird kind of lovePublished 3 months ago by rr
I am impressed with the author's story telling and the analogies used. The clever comparisons brought a smile to my face many, many times. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.Published 3 months ago by Gerald J. Fox