BACKTRACKED by Pedro de Alcantara


Age Range: 14 & up
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Hoping to escape the shadow of his older brother, a dead 9/11 hero, 15-year-old Tommy Latrella runs away from his Brooklyn home. Instead of ending up on a bus to Las Vegas, however, he falls through a mysterious and never-explained time portal and lands in 1918. Without money or a home, he is taken in by an Italian family and works a construction job in what later becomes the NYC subway system. From 1918, Latrella (which he prefers to Tommy) falls into 1932, where he escapes homelessness as a Mafia recruit. Another portal takes him to 1942, where he enlists in the Army. Saving a friend’s life brings him back to 2006. Historical details swamp the plot: De Alcantara’s use of the subway as Latrella’s touchstone overwhelms human character development with an alphabet soup of antique train lines. Latrella has good intentions but lacks personality, clunking back and forth in unfinished story lines with unrealistic dialogue, and the secondary characters are just paper-thin caricatures. The all-too-predictable end wraps up in a lesson about the importance of history and family. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: March 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-73419-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2009