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4.4 32
by Joan Bauer

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Ivy doesn't want to be a lawyer. Who cares? Well, her father, for starters, who expects his daughter to take up the Breedlove family profession with dedication and enthusiasm. But Ivy wants to be a historian, a vocation that's getting quite a workout as she prepares a family history in honor of her beloved great-aunt Tib's eightieth birthday. This undertaking


Ivy doesn't want to be a lawyer. Who cares? Well, her father, for starters, who expects his daughter to take up the Breedlove family profession with dedication and enthusiasm. But Ivy wants to be a historian, a vocation that's getting quite a workout as she prepares a family history in honor of her beloved great-aunt Tib's eightieth birthday. This undertaking takes Ivy on a great journey, as she hikes into the wilds of the Adirondacks to find her reclusive aunt Jo -- and her own destiny.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Backwater...

"Bauer's characters crackle with eccentricity and exhibit glimmers of intense emotion."--Publishers Weekly

Praise for Almost Home by Joan Bauer

"Sugar's voice is convincing, both as storyteller and young writer; her natural good humor shines through what could be a sad story indeed. Quirky supporting characters—both human and dog—add to its appeal. Sugar...will win readers hearts." —Kirkusstarred review

"Sure to inspire..." —Library Media Connectionstarred review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this compelling, though ultimately uneven outing, Bauer (Rules of the Road) travels to a literal and emotional backwater, navigating the strong ties that bind-and have the potential to choke-a proud but dysfunctional family. For generations, the Breedloves have been respected lawyers in the community, and it's been expected-nearly demanded-that 16-year-old Ivy will follow in their footsteps. But Ivy feels driven to become a historian and, as her first major project, she undertakes the task of compiling the Breedlove genealogy. As the family gathers for the holidays, Ivy's time-saving Aunt Fiona (she has her own TV show, It's About Time) skims through the family history with a video camera. But Ivy determines that, to make the family tree complete, she must locate long-lost Aunt Josephine, her father's rebellious sister. Her search leads her to the Adirondacks, where she comes face-to-face with not only Josephine, but Ivy's own fears about life as a Breedlove. In the best passages, Bauer's characters crackle with eccentricity and exhibit glimmers of intense emotion. Mountaineering fans will also thrill at the wintry, rugged scenery. But in the end, readers may feel Ivy's adventure-and the extreme avenues taken by Josephine-to be too far-fetched. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA - Maura Bresnahan
Sixteen-year-old Ivy Breedlove is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. For generations the Breedloves have had illustrious careers as lawyers, judges, and law professors. Ivy, raised by her lawyer father since her mother's death from cancer when Ivy was six, knows that her calling is the study of the past. Bauer's story opens the day after Christmas at the Breedlove family's homestead in the Adirondack Mountains in New York where the clan has gathered for the holidays. Ivy has taken over the compilation of the family history. When she learns that her father's sister, long estranged from the family, may be living a hermit-like existence high in a mountain cabin, she is determined to make contact with her aunt. With the help of Mountain Mama, a wilderness guide writing a self-help New Age novel, Ivy travels through the snow-covered terrain to her aunt's refuge. Both the journey and the time she spends with her Aunt Jo give Ivy the strength to carve out her own place in the Breedlove family and communicate more openly with her father. Bauer once again provides readers with an eminently likeable heroine with whom they will quickly identify. Ivy's quest to be herself, not what other people expect of her, is one many adolescents share. All the reader's senses are brought alive in the scenes set in the mountain wilderness. As in her other novels, Bauer brings a strong affiliation with the land to this work. The setting's geography is lovingly detailed and one cannot help but feel one is traveling to the "backwater" with Ivy in search of history, and ultimately hope. Mountain Mama's sign says it all: "You are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Don't just stand there--come on in." VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 7 UpDuring a family reunion at Plum Lake, NY, at the beginning of the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, teenager Ivy Breedlove feels overwhelmed by the aggressive energy pouring forth from her relatives. Because she doesnt want to follow the family tradition of becoming a lawyer and prefers quiet pastimes such as reading and genealogy, they are somewhat contemptuous of her, remarking that she reminds them of crazy, mysterious Aunt Josephine, who disappeared years ago. Upset that Aunt Fiona thinks that family history can be suitably reported on a quickly produced videotape and totally leaving out Josephine, Ivy embarks on a search for the missing woman. Following this quest into the mountains leads Ivy to engage the climbing talents of the physically powerful, worldly wise, and somehow engaging Mountain Mama. Through blisters, storms, collapsed shelter, and shifting lake ice, Ivy struggles to reunite her family and secure her own place within it. Bauer brings together seemingly disparate plot elements and makes them work beautifully. Readers will feel an immediate rapport with Ivy, and they will come to understand, admire, and learn from Mountain Mama and Josephine. Rich with engaging characters, a light love interest, and dramatic tension in a well-paced plot, this is another great read from Bauer.Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bauer (Rules of the Road, 1998, etc.) catalogs the benefits of staying connected to the past in this exuberant, melodramatic tale of self-discovery. Although many of her relatives are lawyers, and her father has repeatedly and emphatically asserted that the Breedloves are, have always been, and always will be lawyers, Ivy discovers a notable exception: Aunt Josephine is a strange, reclusive duck who hasn't been seen in years. Determined to get Jo's story for a family history she is compiling for a great-aunt's 80th birthday, Ivy ventures out to the remote Adirondacks cabin where her aunt lives in solitude, surrounded by books, woodcarvings, and songbirds that perch on her shoulders. Interviewing Jo, Ivy not only gets some surprising news about her Type-A father, but finds validation for her own maverick yen to be a historian. The visit turns into an adventure when, in the midst of a winter storm, a falling tree shatters both the cabin and Jo's leg, leading to a wild, desperate run for help, followed by a funny, touching family reunion. Bauer tucks a budding romance between Ivy and a ranger-in-training into the triumphant finale, and in the contentious, gregarious Breedloves celebrates the similarities and differences that bind families. If it's all just a little larger than life, that only adds to the entertainment. (Fiction. 11-15)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.58(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Joan Bauer (www.joanbauer.com.) is the author of numerous books for young readers. She received a Newbery Honor Medal for Hope Was Here, and the L.A. Times Book Prize for Rules of the Road. The Christopher Award was given to both Hope was Here and Close to Famous, which also received the Schneider Family Book Award. Joan is the recipient of numerous state awards voted by readers.

School Library Journal says, “When it comes to creating strong, independent, and funny characters, Bauer is in a class by herself.”

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Backwater 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please read my amazing review for this book. This book is kind've boring at the beginning, but gets better at the middle when the real adventure happens. Ivy goes on this daring adventure through the wilderness, with a companion, and goes out in search of her hermit aunt. When she gets there, she has another adventure and(spoiler alert) Ivy, toward the ebnd, gets closer to her aunt and she realises they have a lot in common. So why don't you go and buy this book? Why are you still reading my review. Go… Get… This… BOOK! NOW!!!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book for anybody of any age. It has good lessons, AMAZING characters, and the storyline is so good that its hard to put down. Definitely read this boook! Im serious!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome i loved it. it made me cry because i really felt connected to ivy and jo. BUY THIS BOOK IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maranna More than 1 year ago
The Main character in Backwater, Ivy Breedlove is on a mission to find information on her family tree. In order for her to complete this she needs to find her aunt Josephine, who left the family years before. For Ivy to find her aunt she needs to go on a hike in the woods to Josephine’s cabin. When her and the tourist guide get to Josephine’s cabin Ivy convinces her to let her stay for two days so she can ask her questions about her life. On the night before Ivy’s last day with aunt Josephine, a bad winter storm comes and causes a tragedy to happen to Ivy and Aunt Josephine. I would recommend Backwater because of the way it grabs your attention from the very beginning of the story. The moral of the story is to be who you want to be, and not what other people are influencing you to be. The suspense in the book will keep you reading until you finish the book.
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Annagurl More than 1 year ago
This book is one that I will always read over and over. It has great characters and a wonderful plot. Deffinetly one to help find yourself with. Joan Bauer's books are incredible. Read it! Read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first picked this up in the bookstore, and for the first 30 pages, I was hooked. This portion contained several great quotes without being too preachy. I found myself drawn into the story of a teenage girl who doesn't fit in with her family. In particular, I felt that the relationship between strong-minded Mr. Breedlove and the quietly convicted Ivy was well-drawn. Around the time of Ivy's journey, however, the novel weakened. I found myself unable to suspend my disbelief that a woman could tame wild birds and build a cabin all on her own. Also, as much as I liked the character of Mountain Mama, she seemed to just spout platitudes all the time, and she never made one mistake. A flaw in character or judgement would've made her more human. Even worse, several aspects of Ivy's story were abandoned. I wanted to see more interaction between her and her father and Egan, as these were two of her strongest relationships. Excerpts of her history project would've made the plot seem more real. I think Ivy could've experienced her revelation in other more, believable ways. For example, what if she had caught her aunt bringing the wreaths to the cemetery? While this novel began with great potential, several relationships were not fully developped in the book. A little editing and revision could've gone a long way...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was heart warming in every way. The emotional parts were very sad and ....the book was awesome.I recommend this book to every one who is into mild adventure and standing up to people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is an awesome book. Actually, that's mostly because of how well I relate to it. I love to be alone and it's nice to read about someone else like that. If you don't like it, I think it's because you just don't get it. But when you understand, Backwater is an awesome book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a good light read. It kept me interested in what was about to happen and the secrets that Aunt Josephine held. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in something riveting yet not too emotional. I've become a Joan Bauer fan by reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't think that this book had a good story line or ended well. It sort of seemed as if the snow storm and the cabin damage was like Bauer's way to attempt to save the story....better luck next time, Joan!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book, not only because it had a good and captivating plot, but also because of many great quotes and hidden messages. It's a really great book about finding the missing piece, dealing with your surroundings, and finding inner strength. Backwater is a great book and I can't wait to read more of this author's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It's really neat. Ivy is really smart and brave and Aunt Jo is cool. I like birds too, but Jo overdoes it a bit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is such a well put together book that it takes up in and you can't get out until the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my summer reading. I absolutely loved it, it took my less than 2 days to read. I connected to the main character Ivy right away. If your family every drives you crazy or you've ever wished to be understood then look no farther than this book- it's perfect for you. I would recommend this book to everyone I know. Joan Bauer writes awesome books, and I'm reading more of her books now. Once you read Backwater there's no turning back, you'll be hooked on Joan Bauer's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a good book but not the best i've ever read. It is all bout a mysterious missing aunt of Ivy Breedlove. Overall it was well put together but a little shacky at some parts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful book for everyone. I read it in two days. I loved it so much I just had to order all the other books by her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book had thrill and excitement I highly recommend it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book the author really has a way that makes you feel like you are in the main character's place. I could not put it down. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a twelve-year old girl, and I absolutely loved this book! I think this book was great because the main character, Ivy, finds her aunt at the same time as she finds pieces to herself. No one in her family believes that she will find her hermit-aunt, but she is confident in herself. I think she is a great example for all girls! You should read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What struck me while reading Backwater was that my spirit carried on a dialogue within myself as the story of the Breedloves unfolded. Maybe it was the simple, straightforward language in the writing. I did not need to spend a lot of mental energy figuring out sentence structure or looking up unfamiliar words in a dictionary to understand what was transpiring in this novel. Perhaps it was the tone of the book that gave flight to my soul! The birds were symbolic. If they could just exist, free to individually express their natures, I knew I, also, could just ¿be¿ myself. The story invoked plenty of man versus nature conflicts. But, the man versus himself conflicts were the most thought provoking. ¿We put you in situations you¿ve never been in before so the true sense of your grit and courage can come out¿, said the expedition guide to Ivy. And, then, there was the man versus society or family conflicts, too. And, yet, the book was not about conflicts. It was about peace, fulfillment, self-realization and harmony. When sixteen-year-old Ivy Breedlove determines to interview her estranged Aunt Josephine before completing her historical account of the Breedloves, she starts the healing process of a family that had no idea it needed any healing whatsoever. The great lawyering tradition, with all its¿ power and speech and arguments to be won, meets headlong with those hermit characteristics of a very peaceful but equally determined and passionate soul. With a lot of help from catastrophic nature, Ivy learns to understand her father and his heritage and receives the acceptance and encouragement she needs from her dad. I enjoyed having made the acquaintance of Mountain Mama, Ivy¿s adventurous guide, who regularly espouses quotes from the chapter headings of the book she plans to write, and from rules for how to survive the wilderness, or makes comments like, ¿Time to lose that memory!¿ when Ivy, faced with a ¿moving challenge¿, says, ¿I have trouble standing on things that are moving. I stood on a float once and thought I was going to vomit.¿ Equally interesting are minor characters like Fiona, a secondary antagonist, and Jack, a potential suitor, whom you could tell ¿was a male you could trust--- unless you needed searching or rescuing.¿ Each character, whether stagnant or dynamic was fully developed. Backwater made me think of poetry the way it leant my spirit a better understanding of human nature and of my own differences. In language simple enough to hold a lot of emotional power, I found myself intuitively connecting with the characters within this work. I believe that Backwater would benefit and be enjoyed by anyone who is in the process of determining what they want to do with their life or in their life or is struggling to find support for their goals within their families. Backwater is extremely enjoyable with an intelligent twist to its¿ contents. I would recommend Backwater to anyone who likes to read good literature.