Back Roads and Coal Run

I know better...I really do...I have no excuse. Aliens did not invade my home last night, Pat Sajack did not invade my body, the earth did not rotate backwards on it's axis, WWIII did not break out, Jesus did not rise from the grave and declare new wave music to be the only way into heaven, nothing happened to make me break my own rule of never, ever reading anything that has ever made it on Oprah's reading list.

I put this rule in place for one very good reason. Books on Oprah's reading list are DEPRESSING! Every single one of them. Heart-wrenchingly, soul-suckingly, mind-numbingly depressing. I know this and yet I did it. I read an Oprah's Book List book. I have a somewhat valid excuse. I enjoyed Tawni O'Dell's book Sister Mine so much, I picked up her other two at the library, Coal Run and Back Roads. Nah, not a valid excuse at all.

Coal Run was OK- not too bad, answers the question What happens to small town football heroes when they can no longer play? The narrator Ivan Zoschenko, fallen football legend, whose pro career was sidelined by an injury, now serves as a local deputy in his hometown. Seemingly lost, Ivan is a great tragic hero who drowns his sorrows in alcohol night after night. Watching him crawl from the mire was entertaining enough to keep the pages turning.

On the other hand Back Roads was the most depressing book I have read in my entire life. Brilliantly written! The author can turn a phrase that should be classified in the genius category. The characters were incredible. The suspense terrifying. Horrifyingly depressing.

I heard a new phrase the other day....Trauma Porn. Apparently trauma porn is very in right now, especially amongst the YA set. Apparently according to Meg Cabot many teenagers enjoy reading books about people's lives who are much worse than their own. Adults apparently have enjoyed trauma porn for some time hence the sheer amount of books on the shelf about child abuse, domestic abuse, and incest.

Yes, Back Roads has all of the above. Nineteen year old main character Harley Altmyer is stuck in a closed-minded, stricken coal town, in the Pennsylvania backwoods, caring for his three sisters. With his mother in jail for killing his abusive father, Harley is left with few options. Dysfunctional with a capital D- this book reminds us just why we live on the west coast.
Clear your day- you'll need huge infusions of chocolate to beat back the Dementors after you are done.


Cyn said...

I have the same rule of not reading books from Oprah's reading list. While the books may be good, they are very depressing.



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