Sunday, June 15, 2008

Out Backward-Ross Raisin

Out Backward
Ross Raisin
Harper, Jun 24 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061448751

In Yorkshire lonely teenager Sam Marsdyke was strongly told to drop out of school when he was accused of attempted rape; he left the classroom and no charge, not even assault, was filed against him. He lives and works on the family farm along side his acrimonious angry father and his submissive silent mother. Increasingly the area and the central village are being gentrified by wealthy Southerners to the dismay of generational long timers like Sam’s outraged old man.

Sam sees fifteen years old Josephine Reeves, who has moved with her family from London onto the adjoining farm. Already hearing about Sam’s scandalous incident, her father warns Sam to stay away from his daughter or else. Still the two teens becomes friends even as Sam stalks her sitting for hours on the nearby hill to catch a glimpse of his beloved. Jo encourages him to risk more. Finally she decides to run away and persuades Sam to accompany her; not that it took much. On their trek nothing goes right until Jo insists he let her go home, but he refuses.

This is an astonishing disturbing look at two characters; one might be a sociopath manipulating the other, but who is the deranged one as Sam seems obvious but Jo seemingly has cleverly maneuvered him to her bidding, or has he been the one in control. The stunning stark cover enhances the sense of doom while the local dialect adds to the overall tension of an increasingly creepy feeling that this is not going to end well. Fans need to set aside plenty of time because this one sitting read will grip the audience with the obsess need to know who, if either or both, are left standing.

Harriet Klausner