Select one of the keywords
Back Roads    by Tawni O'Dell order for
Back Roads
by Tawni O'Dell
Order:  USA  Can
New American Library, 2004 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Harley Altmyer's mother is in jail for shooting his father. Harley and his three younger sisters remain in the family home in western Pennsylvania, while Harley pays the bills by working two jobs. Life is spiraling out of his control.

This is a first novel for Tawni O'Dell. It spent nine weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and was an Oprah Book Club choice and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection! It is soon to be a motion picture. Quite an achievement for a first-time author. O'Dell has earned the accolades. Back Roads is a gripping, moving story of life going awry. A story of parental abuse that throws repercussions in every direction. Poignant and heartbreaking.

Harley is a pitiable character, who is trying desperately to hold onto reality but who would love to sink into another world to escape his personal horrors. O'Dell has created an account of human emotions stretched to the breaking point. Harley has a sense of humor that he considers to be serious, and the ability to think deeply about his life. His journey into desperation is beautifully told with well-chosen words. The writing is tight and the action moves at an alarming rate.

Back Roads is not an uplifting book. It is disturbing and tends to linger in one's mind after the last page is read.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews