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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.
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 25 days 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 1 month ago by Janet Gibbons
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 2 months ago by JAMES VINING
I thought it was well written and the characters were well developed. The struggles of a boy trying to keep his family together and learning how to become a responsible person,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Classy Lady
I couldn't put this book down, and the extraordinary thing is that after a week of finishing it, I am still thinking about it! Read morePublished 5 months ago by brigettejosiphine
It took me forever to find this book after it was recommended by my son's librarian. It was lost at his library, didn't exist in mine, not available at any others for inter-library... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Maggie
Just an overall awesome piece of work! This story was very real and very intense. I finished it in one day as I just couldn't put it down. Great job.Published 7 months ago by Callie