Walking Backward

Walking Backward

by Catherine Austen

NOOK Book(eBook)

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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's closest friend is a plastic Power Ranger. His psychiatrist offers nothing more than a blank journal and platitudes. 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 tries to mend 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. His observations, recorded in a series of journal entries, are funny, smart, insightful, and heartbreaking. His conclusions about the nature of love, loss, grief and the space-time continuum are nothing less than life-changing

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554695553
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication date: 10/01/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 176
File size: 310 KB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Catherine Austen was raised in Kingston, Ontario, the youngest of five children. She studied political science at Queen's University and environmental studies at York University. While procrastinating in the face of exams, she wrote several short stories for literary journals. She worked through the 1990s in Canada's conservation movement, campaigning for federal endangered species legislation. In 2000, Catherine quit office life to raise her children and work as a freelance writer for environmental organizations and First Nations. While procrastinating in the face of deadlines, she began writing children's fiction. Catherine writes from her home in Quebec, which she shares with her husband, Geoff, and their children, Sawyer and Daimon.

Read an Excerpt

Dr. Tierney sent a scribbled note with the journal. It's very important to write every time you have a strong feeling, Josh, and review the journal each week. So when someone makes me laugh or cry, I'm supposed to say, "Hey, man, I've got a strong feeling coming on," and rush off to write it down. It's supposed to be private, but Dad will probably sneak into my room to read it. Then he'll think I'm sad all the time, and that will turn him into a sad person too. Seriously, this thing is dangerous.

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Walking Backward 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
AnnaWilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mourning: a terrible, painful process of grief that occurs after the lose of a loved one. This is the process young Josh describes in Walking Backward by Catherine Austen. Through her young narrator, Austen seamlessly integrates the many different mourning traditions in cultures throughout the world. Her blend of light humor with such a tragic event shows how the loss of a mother so impacts a family. A sad but necessary story of love, loss, and coming-of-age in a situation no one would want to be in. Austen includes small but painful anecdotes that Josh experiences in his mourning process that help him and his family cope with the lose of a mother.
sharonluvscats on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Walking Backward was a surprise hit for me. I've read a couple of books from Orca Publishing and was underwhelmed by all of them, so I didn't have high expectation for Walking Backwards. This was the second book in a week to make me cry. Walking Backwards should come with a box of tissues. You have to be made of stone not to cry when reading Walking Backward.12 year old Josh has the world on his shoulder after his mom dies. His father is hiding out in the basement building a time machine, so he must tend to his little brother, and deal with his grief all on his own. Josh also goes to a therapist which results in the journal style of Walking Backward. Josh is a very strong and intelligent 12 year old boy. I love how he would go off on tangents about different types of snakes while trying to figure out who put the snake in the car that caused his mothers fatal car accident. Josh had a unique and compelling voice through the story. I was compelled to keep reading to see how his story would end.The relationship that Josh has with his little brother is touching and overwhelmingly sad. These were the parts of the book that had me in tears. How do you explain to a little boy that his mommy is never coming back? How do you explain it to him when you are just a child yourself? It was fascinating to see how Josh handled this problem.The ending of Walking Backward closes up nicely. Josh gets some answers about what caused his mothers accident and is able to start the healing process.Overall, Walking Backward was a very well written book. With strong interactions among the characters and a solid ending. I would recommended Walking Backward to anyone who likes a good cry.
mamzel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josh's mother died in a car crash. She had a phobia about snakes and lost control of the car when a garter snake showed itself on the seat next to her. His family had no religious affiliation and no prescribed way of dealing with their loss so Josh, his father, and his little brother, Sammy, each took a different route. Dad decided to build a time machine so he could go back and remove the snake from the car. 4-year old Sammy took solace in Power Ranger dolls and Josh studied mourning rituals of the world's major religions to see if one of them might suit. Josh is put in the adult position of this tragedy and struggles with laundry, supporting his brother, and getting his dad to give up on the senseless building of the time machine. They seek help from a therapist who gives them journals to write in. This book is Josh's journal. Would this be enjoyed by a middle school student? I might recommend this book to those adventurous students who are always demanding something different. The different mourning rituals are very interesting and one is not made to seem better than the others. This little family muddles through with their journals, even little Sammy. The book does not end on a happy note, but a promising one.
Tinasbookreviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Walking Backward was a quick read. Very sad but well written for the younger reader 12-14. The death of Josh's mother sets the tone for a gloomy read but Josh's voice and sense of humor carry the reader to the brighter spots of the book. Reading through Josh's journal was funny, heartbreaking and hopefull. I know that readers will love Josh and cheering for him throughout the story.
elizardkwik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. Josh has a clear and unique voice. He is honest and intelligent. It was both amusing and touching, which is a good combination for a book about this subject. The book had good characterization and details while still being action oriented.
Adrienne2093 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Walking Backward was a quick, sad but touching read about a 12 year old boy whose mother just died in a car accident. The story started on July 30th and ended on September 6th, where each of those days were journal entries of the main character's life after his mom's death. A couple times I felt myself becoming bored, but once I got to the end it got better because the mood was lightening and their family was coming back together. Several times throughout I felt very sad or though it was pretty funny. At the end, you also finally find out who actually put the snake in the car, which was very surprising to me.The plot was very original and nicely written. The story seems like it's for younger children, but I don't think I would have enjoyed it has much if I had read when I was younger. If you know a younger child whose parent died, I think this would be a good book for them to read. My only complaints would be it became a little boring at times, and I think the book isn't really for younger children because I don't think they would enjoy it as much.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The narrator of Walking Backward is a 12 year old boy named Josh, whose mother recently died in a car accident caused by a snake in her car. What the reader doesn't find out until later is why the snake was in the car or who put it there. The novel begins with Josh's journal entries, starting July 30 and continues until Sept 6th. Josh's strong voice details his observations about the events going on around him and his thoughts on his mother's death. Although the book deals with sobering content, there is quite a bit of humour interspersed in the pages. I know that readers will appreciate Josh's open honesty. Here are a couple passages from the novel:From page 165 after Josh finds out how the snake got into his mom's car, "There's nothing like a good dose of anger to push you out of the denial stage of grief." orhis reflection on page 63 of when he made his mom laugh, " And sometimes I would make her laugh so hard that I could see her fillings and she'd smack the table and cackle like a witch. It was a great feeling to make her laugh like that." There are many more wonderfully vivid descriptions which contribute to making Walking Backward an enjoyable read.
meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a sweet, touching story about a twelve-year-old boy's summer after the sudden death of his mother in a car crash. Josh's grief therapist suggested he keep a journal, and the book is his entries from July 30 through September 6.Unlike a lot of books in diary format, this isn't overly detailed and sounds like it really could be an ordinary boy's journal. Josh's love and devotion to his little brother was moving. The rituals the grieving family went through ring true to me: Josh looks up mourning rituals from different cultures and religions, his four-year-old brother Sam pretends a toy Power Ranger is his mother, and his father hides himself in the basement all day trying to make a time machine. Also realistic was the family's gradual progress towards healing: at the beginning of the story, Josh and Sam are wearing pajamas 24/7 and beating trees with their toy swords while their father completely ignores them, but at the end the family goes on a camping trip and you see they're learning to cope with their loss.I think this would be a good book for 9-to-12s and up, especially for those who have lost a parent.
skstiles612 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grief at any age is difficult. Twelve year old Josh has just lost his mother in a car accident. He has no one to show him what he should do next. His younger brother has started sleeping with him. His father has been busy trying to build a time machine. Josh has never felt so alone. At one point Josh wishes he were Jewish because they are organized about death. It is difficult as an adult dealing with death. I've worked with kids as young as five who have lost a parent and it is always tough. There are no set or exact answers to the grieving process. This is what Josh is looking for. I have several friends who will never read this book no matter how good I tell them it is because it is a sad book. However I will definitely recommend this book and especially to those who have lost a loved one.
heby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although this book starts off a bit slowly, you begin to feel a lot of compassion for Josh and his younger brother. When Josh finally finds out who put the snake in his mother's car, the story seems to come together and the family finally seems to be able to get some closure. I loved how the author incorporates all kinds of different grieving customs from different religions. You really get inside the main character's head.
spartyliblover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like the main character's mother, I have a phobia of snakes. It took me almost a month to deal with the snake on the front cover before I could start reading. Once I started the book I found it slow moving and did not feel involved with the characters. I've finally given up trying to finish the book because it does not seem to be going anywhere. However, tweens who have just lost a parent or friend may find comfort in the book, particularly the different mourning practices of different religions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book . Anybody should read it.