>I finished Backwater by Joan Bauer just minutes ago, and I’m not quite sure what to say. I know it’s one of the finest young adult novels I’ve ever read. The concepts Bauer included in her novel are too rich to explain in a simple blog entry. Backwater is about attempting to belong while being different than any every person around you; it’s about finding yourself; it’s about the history that surrounds you; it’s also about not allowing your family’s history to consume you.
Ivy Breedlove is her family’s historian, much to the chagrin of her Aunt Fiona, a time management specialist who attempts, in vain, to chronicle the Breedlove history on a strict time schedule. Missing from the family history is Aunt Josephine, or Jo as she likes to be called. Jo never felt a part of the family, which turns out lawyers like the Kennedy’s manufacture politicians. Ivy has no interest in being a lawyer. Her passion is history. Ivy believes her Aunt Jo is the missing piece of the Breedlove puzzle. Often compared with Jo, Ivy needs to find out why Jo discarded the family and moved out, hermit like, on her own.
Jo, like Ivy, doesn’t fit in. But she’s pressured to conform to family standards. No wonder Bauer is such a successful young adult novelist. She captures Ivy’s voice, and in doing so, captures the essence of every teen’s wonder – how exactly they fit in.