Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Out Backward" by Ross Raisin

Meet Sam. Sam has a past. He lives in a small town, works on his parent's farm, and was kicked out of school for a possible misdeed. Meet Josephine. She just moved into the farmhouse beside Sam's from London, and she hates it here. This unliklely pair bond over the daily activities of Sam's farm, and when Josephine decides that she wants to run away one night and that she wants Sam to come with her, everything changes.

Suddenly this duo is on the run together, stealing meals on the run, sleeping under the stars. Suddenly Josephine decides that she's had enough of playing the runaway and she expresses her desire to return home. At this point, Sam unintentionally dives into the role of the kidnapper, tying his captive's wrists and leading her along on a leash. As she tries to escape him, he only holds on an inevitable conclusion. Sam is caught and he is sent to prison for "kidnapping".

Although the Old English language used in the book took a bit to get used to, by the time I had reached the halfway point of the book, I was hooked. Ross Raisin really allows his readers to decide for themselves what's going on at this point in the book. When Sam and Josephine first run away, they are laughing and and having a good time together, however when Josephine decides that she's had enough and that she wants to go home, Sam falls into this role of the kidnapper that never quite suits him. He still tries to get nice things and do nice things for Josephine, despite the fact that she is now essentially his captive. He still envisions a future for them, with a nice little house and a dog, so his thinking never really shifts from co-conspirator to kidnapper. It's like running away from Josephine brought out this dark side of him, and I began to wonder at this point if this darkness had been inside of him all along but dormant.

I'm still not sure what I thought of Sam at the end. Was he a merely a victim to young Josephine's schemes all along? Or was he mentally ill, believing that his captive wanted to come along in the first place? Did he really almost commit a crime when he was younger, or did the girl lead him on in that case as well? My jury's still out- I'm not quite sure what to think of Sam and his activites. Maybe he really did just come "out backward" as his mother said. A different read, compelling at times, sad at others, but in the end I think that the author did do what he set out to do: he created a character who was altogether unforgettable.

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