Back Roads

Version: Unabridged
Author: Tawni O'Dell
Narrator: Andrew Eiden
Genres: Literature
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: August 2015
# of Units: 8 CDs
Length: 9 hours, 45 minutes
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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.

“Tense…deftly captures the voice of a teenage boy who’s in trouble.”—New York Times Book Review

Reviews (1)

Written by Fiona Kalu on January 6th, 2017

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I thought this book was pretty funny. Harley as a character is very disturbed but I like how he thinks about life. His perspective on everything he sees made me look at everything I see in a different light. I now pay attention to life because of this book. This is a must read for people over 16 years of age.

Author Details

Author Details

O'Dell, Tawni

Tawni O'Dell is the "New York Times" bestselling author of Coal Run and Back Roads, which was also an Oprah's Book Club selection. She lives in Pennsylvania with her two children and her husband, literary translator Bernard Cohen.
For more information about the author, visit

"From the Hardcover edition."