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Backtracked Hardcover – March 10, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fifteen-year-old Tommy Latrella is about to board his beloved New York City subway system as he runs away from home to escape the shadow of his older brother, a fireman who perished in the attacks of 9/11. But when a prank goes horribly wrong, the subway jettisons him back to 1918, where Italian immigrants take him in and fix him up with a backbreaking job building subway tunnels. Tommy faces success and tragedy, and then is thrown by a subway crash into 1932, where Depression-era struggles compel him to work for the Mafia as a money collector. It takes a third round of time travel, this one to the middle of World War II, for Tommy to realize that he won’t get to return home until he starts making up for his past mistakes. It’s a dizzying premise that sometimes strains credibility, but de Alcantara’s obvious love for New York is infectious, especially for history buffs, and his ability to fashion gritty realism within a fantastical plot sets this thriller apart. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus

About the Author

Pedro de Alcantara is a Brazilian musician who lives in Paris and travels the world teaching the Alexander Technique, a method that improves habits of movement and thought in everyday activities. His first novel for young readers, Befiddled, is available from Yearling.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 570L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385734190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385734196
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,092,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pedro de Alcantara's books include the children's novels "Befiddled" and "Backtracked" (both published by Delacorte Press) and works of non-fiction for adults, including "Indirect Procedures: A Musician's Guide to the Alexander Technique" (published by the Oxford University Press and translated into French, German, and Japanese), "Integrated Practice: Coordination, Rhythm & Sound" (also published by the OUP), and "The Alexander Technique: A Skill for Life" (published by Crowood). Pedro is currently finishing a new novel for young readers. Pedro travels the world giving seminars and master classes.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donna S. Reid on May 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is supposed to be for the teen set, but I am way beyond that and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only is the story engaging and entertaining but the details in the historical time periods are perfect. This book screams major motion picture!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barney Lehrer on June 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A great read for any age. As a lifelong NY subway rider I was happily surprised to read subway lore and history I never knew. And great history education for kids too!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura from the Bronx on June 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Backtracked: is fast paced, it's got true New York subway grit, graffiti, mafiosi goons,time travel- what else could a teenager want?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Like many of you, I imagine, I opened this book for the first time just after running along a platform to catch a subway train. This was not deliberate, or in anyway influenced by the book's cover. I was simply late for an engagement; one of many bad habits. Thus began my version of "getting to know Latrella."

Students of karma, transformation... in short, of life, will applaud this book's injection of big and strange ideas into the milieu of teen literature, and readers of teen literature will appreciate that too. As other commentators have already said, the term teen literature doesn't actually cover it; this story is somehow much bigger. But younger readers seem clearly to be the initial target, and the author is known in the genre.

At the end of the book Latrella's story (like all stories) seems to be not quite over, or rather, "a completion is a beginning;" let's see. Are we being asked to search for the Latrella in ourselves? The personal possibilities of this book are endless. There is definitely a movie in here, and ambitious directors would have a field day: here we have vignettes of distinct époques strung together, whereas one might also see each period as one in the same event, through varying sets of filters.

The honest treatment of sensitive subjects -- 9-11, father-son relationship, and the grim reality behind early 20th century life in the USA -- is to be commended. 9-11 in particular is dealt with from two very different and valid points of view, and the transformation of Latrella is clearly in one sense a linking of these two seemingly contradictory positions, contempt and admiration, into one.
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