Backwater

by Joan Bauer, 1999, 185 pages

finished reading it yesterday

fictional story of mid-teen years of main character Ivy Breedlove, (best friend Octavia Harrison (who is into sociology), pet dog Genghis, & Jack Lowden (wilderness-guide-to-be & who winds up being her current “interest”/boyfriend))
Ivy is into the family stories of the Breedloves (ancestory, etc.) & history in general
with the support of her Aunt Tib, she spends the the duration of the book collecting information for a Breelove history book of sorts, (while her Aunt Fiona would rather do a quick & shallow version of the family history), Ivy being an only child, Egan, a cousin once-removed, is a fellow family member close to her age that pops into the story at regular intervals,  many of the Breedloves are/were lawyers (on her Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Millard Breedlove’s, gravestone, it is etched “O, wouldst that all my sons be lawyers / Lest my heart break with the anguish / That they have become lesser men“), as the book unravels though, Ivy relates to her estranged Aunt Josephine in being different then the lawyers in the family, & the plot develops as quest for her to find her Aunt Josephine (with the help of Wilderness Guide Mountain Mama) & then spend time/get to know Josephine (“Jo”), who lives up in the mountains, lives with & cares for many many many birds, & has a pet wolf, Malachi, as well as reintroduce “Jo” to the family of Breedloves (& vice versa)…

other characters: Dan Breedlove (Ivy Breedlove’s father) Uncle Archie, William Wasington “Iron Will” Breedlove (Ivy Breedlove’s grandfather) (gravestone read: “Justice was his chief end.”) G. Preston Roblick (Headmaster of Long Wharf Academy (school Ivy Breedlove attends)),  Claude (ex-boyfriend), Mrs. Englebert (neighbor)

I agree with the themes that history is important, that researching ones roots definitely gives one a better sense of self, & that loners deserve respect & acceptance like anybody else… found it to be a semi-worthy read.

page 3

“I love to stand on the porch and gaze at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, the oldest mountains in the United States.

Mountains draw you to a deeper place in yourself.”

page 18

“I’ve got the two things a good interviewer needs: curiosity and patience.”

page 28

“…stuck in the backwater. “Backwater” means an isolated or backward place or condition; it had become a favorite Breedlove expression..”

page 185

“You can’t pursue history without finding hope.”

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