Walking Backward by Catherine Austen (Orca Book Publishers, 2009)
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 is talking to a plastic Power Ranger. His psychiatrist offers nothing more than a blank journal.
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 reads the Darwin Awards to judge the stupidity of his mother’s accident. He interviews the neighbours in search of a murder suspect. He mends 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.
Short-listed for the Canadian Library Association’s 2010 Book of the Year for Children Award and numerous provincial awards.
“An elegantly crafted volume of lasting power.” – Kirkus Reviews – September 15, 2009
Read more reviews on the author’s website.
“[An] outstanding debut novel….[Austen’s] writing cuts straight to the heart. She delivers a wise, rich novel, wonderfully compelling for children and adults alike.” – The Globe and Mail, November 21, 2009
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For more information on Walking Backward, to read the first chapter, or learn more about phobias, visit the author’s website.