While Oprah and her benevolent book-club sticker shed an appropriate spotlight on this masterpiece for a millisecond, it quickly faded into obscurity, as Ms. O soldiered on to conquer the rest of the literary world. Now, as a movie version of this gem (not to be confused with the 1981 rom-com flick of the same name) is supposedly in the works, we are lapping up the chance to revisit it a while.

I must tell you, the title implies an appropriate level of Deliverance-style, hillbilly ickyness. However, it fails to foreshadow the uncomfortable alliance the reader quickly forms with the novel’s gloomy hero, Harley Altmeyer, as he steps up to take care of his three little sisters, while his disconnected mom rots away in prison for shooting their father like he was a Thanksgiving Day turkey. Some more appropriate titles might be “What’s a Guy Like You Doing in a Town Like This?” or “What the Hell Happened to Harley?”  As one might guess from my cleverly obvious titles, Harley is a bit of weirdly emo heart-throb (without the eyeliner, of course). Think a dark and damaged James Dean.  If you’re feeling a little Mrs. Robinson for having a crush on our 19-year old protagonist, don’t distress—you’re not alone. Harley already has his eye on a slutty little milf all his own.

Off-beat though it is, this novel is seriously well-written, and it sucks you in from page one. You won’t want to tear yourself away from the emotional and psychological hairpin turns of Harley’s journey. Pick it up, read it, let us know what you think. Now that Oprah’s out of the way, we can have our own—way cooler—book club. You won’t get a sticker, but you will get a fabulous excuse from boring obligations, as well as an appropriately smug feeling of superiority when you tell other people, “I must be running along now, book club you know!”

Buy Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell  on Amazon

Written By Dot LeSabre who loves to read because books are awesome and it’s the best way for her to avoid talking to people because she secretly hates most of them.