Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Books I've Loved: Backroads
With being sick, I haven't been able to get to the library and have been forced to re-read books on my shelves at home. Which is not such a bad thing when I get to re-visit some of my favorites. Like this one.
Back Roads is the story of a ninteen-year-old guy who has been left in charge of his three younger sisters after his mother was imprisoned for shooting his father. He is fiercely unprepared for the task, but doggedly keeps at it, working two full-time jobs to keep the roof over their heads and doing his best to make the girls feel safe and secure.
But underneath all this newfound responsibility, Harley is just a horny teenager and his raging libido seethes beneath the surface of everything he does. When the mother of the youngest sister's friend shows him the slightest bit of interest, he becomes obsessed with her.
As family secrets come to light and Harley's obsession with Callie Mercer grows, what's left of this damaged family might just be torn apart.
I loved this book. Harley is such a painfully real character, a mixture of grown man and helpless child. And the secrets that are revealed about the family and how they came to be in the situation they are in are shocking, but unfortunately all too realistic.
The book captures the reality of living on the poverty line and how little help a family like Harley's can get when they want to stay together in the wake of tragedy. It also explores the scars left by a family legacy of abuse and how a child's misunderstanding of an adult's words can lead to tragedy.
Harley Altmyer should be in college drinking Rolling Rock and chasing girls. He should be freed from his closed-minded, stricken coal town, with its lack of jobs and no sense of humor. Instead, he's constantly reminded of just how messed up his life is.
With his mother in jail for killing his abusive father, Harley is an orphan with the responsibilities of an adult and the fiery, aggressive libido of a teenager. Just nineteen years old, he's marooned in the Pennsylvania backwoods caring for his three younger sisters, whose feelings about him range from stifling dependence to loathing. And once he develops an obsession with the sexy, melancholic mother of two living down the road, those Victoria's Secret catalogs just won't do the trick anymore. He wants Callie Mercer so badly he fears he will explode. But it's the family secrets, the lies, and the unspoken truths that light the fuse and erupt into a series of staggering surprises, leaving what's left of his family in tatters. Through every ordeal, the unforgettable Harley could never know that his endearing humor, his love for his sisters, and his bumbling heroics would redeem them all.
Funny and heartbreaking, Tawni O'Dell's pitch-perfect characters capture the maddening confusion of adolescence and the prickly nature of family with irony and unerring honesty. Back Roads is a riveting novel by a formidable new talent.