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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.
I really enjoyed the first part of this book. But the end was just very depressing. I haven't read an Oprah book club book yet that didn't make me feel like crap at the end. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kelly Gayler
An awesome, shocking, breathtaking, sad, witty novel! The characters were so real, the story so intense...I literally couldn't put it down. I recommend this to everyone.Published 2 months ago by Jennifer Wegner
Happy to have discovered this author. I liked it so much I immediately downloaded another Tawni O'Dell book. Excellent storyteller.Published 4 months ago by connie
I love this book so much. How Harley thinks and reacts to situations reminds me of myself. This book is so interesting to me I first read it in 05 I've read it several times after... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jamie George
Book was well written but subject matter was not what I expected..I purchased book as a friend recomened. He also recommended Fragile Beast.Published 5 months ago by Carlyn J Ross
I found this book at a secondhand bookseller in Roskilde, Denmark. I'm normally slightly turned off by Oprah's Book Club's seal of approval, but took a chance because I was... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Sarita Serup
Meaning, the cover notes make it sound like a little darker version of the Andy Griffiths show. But it's really about just how dysfunctional a family can be - to the extreme. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Nancy Gardner
Heartbreaking story of family dysfunction and what can happen if not addressed...Raw... It is almost as if Tawni O' Dell knows the family down the street...Published 7 months ago by Deanie McLaughlin
I will give a disclaimer that this issue is not the seller issue unless they l we about this problem as indicated by black markers drawn on the spine. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Lovelivetoread