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Out Backward

by Ross Raisin

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

By

Out Backward

© HarperCollins

HarperCollins, July 2008

Sam Marsdyke, an awkward Yorkshire teenager, works alongside his silent brooding father on their sheep farm. Sam doesn't have much choice in the matter of vocation, expelled as he was from school after having been accused of attempted rape. He maintains a relationship of mutual suspicion with the village dwellers, the "towns," whom he steadfastly avoids, and his days are so full of sheep-tending, raising his beloved sheepdogs, and walking about the moors that his interest in outsiders is kept to a minimum.
That is, until fifteen year old Josephine and her family move from London into the house adjoining Sam's family's farm. Against his father's orders to stay clear of the girl, Sam's fascination becomes a calculated obsession which blossoms into an actual friendship with Josephine who, rebellious in her own way, uses Sam to get at her parents. Out Backward takes a dark turn when Josephine, on one of her secret visits up to the Marsdyke's farm, urges Sam to run away with her.
Ross Raisin's debut novel is told through the filter of Sam's thick Yorkshire dialect and dementedly rich fantasy life, so in addition to being patently unreliable, the narration is as full of texture and color as the wild moors upon which the story is spun. And it is the wild untamed geography of Sam's mind and his lyrical stream-of-conciousness, which Raisin so consistently and expertly renders, that compels the reader straight through.
Creepy, yes, but compellingly so, Sam Marsdyke is so richly drawn a character that he will live in your head throughout the reading of this novel, and will haunt you for days after. Out Backward is a mesmerizing debut.
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