Walking Backward

Walking Backward
Age Range
8+
Release Date
October 01, 2009
ISBN
1554691478
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When Josh's mother dies in a phobia-induced car crash, she leaves two questions for her grieving family: how did a snake get into her car and how do you mourn with no faith to guide you? Twelve-year-old Josh is left alone to find the answers. His father is building a time machine. His four-year-old brother's closest friend is a plastic Power Ranger. His psychiatrist offers nothing more than a blank journal and platitudes. Isolated by grief in a home where every day is pajama day, Josh makes death his research project. He tests the mourning practices of religions he doesn't believe in. He tries to mend his little brother's shattered heart. He observes, records and waits--for his life to feel normal, for his mother's death to make sense, for his father to come out of the basement. His observations, recorded in a series of journal entries, are funny, smart, insightful--and heartbreaking. His conclusions about the nature of love, loss, grief and the space-time continuum are nothing less than life-changing.

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Walking Backward - brief, raw novel
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Okapi

Walking Backward is an extremely sad novel, and while I usually never cry during books, this one caused me to fetch the box of tissues. The author does a fantastic job with developing her characters; the voice of young Josh is dark, doleful, and realistic for a twelve year old boy; his little brother Sammy is every bit as crazy and innocent as a four-year-old can be; his reclusive, slightly apathetic dad is beautifully written. Josh's voice tells of his family members' different ways of mourning the loss of a loved one. Sammy is confused and traumatized, seeking comfort in his Power Ranger, which he pretends to be his mother. His dad holes himself up in the basement all day, working on a time machine to bring his wife back. Every page of this short novel contains Josh's interesting musings about death, loss, and life in general. Direct and to the point, Josh virtually covers all the dark and happy thoughts of a boy recovering from loss. 

Overall, this quiet read provokes thoughts about the way to mourn loss, move on, and begin to live life again. This book does not contain much of a plot, but it is driven on by the inner journey of Josh and his family. Despite its lack of action, I recommend this touching novel that will entice tears out of everybody's eyes.

Reprinted here with permission of reviewer @ thesmartyowl.blogspot.com
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