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Publisher's Summary

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 talent.

©2001 Tawni O'Dell (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

kind of dark

I like the story. It was difficult at times though. It's the type of story that makes you say, what would I do? Could I survive?

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Intriguing but dark

I chose this book because I have relatives in this part of Pennsylvania. I think it was also on Oprah’s list. I was curious about what kind of story would take place within the backwoods, rural hunting culture and poverty in that area. The story is riveting, but disturbing enough I considered stopping before it was over. If you have a strong stomach, it’s worth the read.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Dark Book!

very disturbing book, but well written and very sad this story is no rainbows & butterflies . Well written book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A tad too dark & hopeless for me

This is well-written and offers insights into the lives of children who grow up physically and emotionally abused. I listened to the end, because the story is compelling and the narrator mostly sympathetic, but had to stop often and turn to music. I can't say I enjoyed this - too dark! - but that's a very personal experience.