Review: Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell


Back Roads
by Tawni O’Dell

coffeesynopsisdHarley 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.


His mom is in jail after she killed her husband. So Harley’s got full responsibility to his three sisters who are quite a handful. The eldest finds solace making out with boys in their living room couch.. The second one couldn’t be moved and the youngest is alarmingly as sweet as syrup. These girls need guidance from a woman, in my honest opinion, but all they got is Harley who isn’t particularly happy nor charmed with the setup. But he’s got no choice but to be the man in the family, and man, he needs all the boost he can get, especially with that lovely mother he’s recently got his eyes on.

Now if only he can give sympathy to his siblings without thinking of strangling them one by one. And if only his mother didn’t fired up that gun…..

I bought this book almost 10 years ago when I learned that this was part of Oprah’s Book Club. I thought, if Oprah liked it, I guess I would too. But as I read the pages one by one, I got this inexplicably sick feeling about Harley and the way he treated his sisters. I couldn’t point my finger on it, I just knew it was giving me the creeps. A week later, I realized I’ve been stuck at the same chapter for a couple of days and couldn’t bring myself to proceed. So I abandoned this book and left it on my box of DNFs. 😦

Now my sons found my old stash and I saw this book, like it’s begging me to read it. So I decided to reread it. Now I realize why I wasn’t able to finish this book before. It was about a dysfunctional family struggling with a series of unfortunate events that befell them. But this aint’ magical like the other book – no, Back Roads is gritty, dark, brutal, savage. My mind couldn’t handle it then, honestly, i still can’t, but I did it! I’d like to think that I am now more mature and open-minded and so I was relieved when I finally finished reading this book. My mind exploded into small pieces, you’d be picking my brains scattered on the floor.

This.Is.Mindfuck. Is it HEA? How I wish! Ugh. This is still giving me a headache. I wonder how Oprah managed to finish it.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s