Back Roads Summary
Tawni O'Dell

Everything you need to understand or teach Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell.

  • Back Roads Summary & Study Guide

Back Roads Summary

The social conflicts that Harley Altmyer endures and attempts to understand are inextricably woven into the themes of Back Roads, so that it is impossible to separate them neatly, and Harley bemoans those English teachers who take the pleasure out of books by "breaking them down into themes and sentence structure." However, the best novels do have important themes, and this one is so well written that its pleasures are indestructible. By definition, the most vital theme of any bildungsroman is the process of, and the necessity for, maturity. Harley's progress can be summed up by two especially riveting scenes: the one in which he seeks and accepts the help of Betty, his first counselor, and the one in which he confronts the authorities after he is arrested. No longer does he fantasize that he is capable of complete independence; he allows his counselor to take him into...

(read more from the Short Guide)