The Backtrack

Canary Street. Jul. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9781335009456. pap. $18.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
La Rosa’s (Plot Twist) poignant story intriguingly explores the concept of “what if.” The novel revolves around protagonist Sam Leto and her complex relationship with her childhood best friend, Damon Rocha. Through the lens of an alternate reality provided by a unique CD player, Sam embarks on an emotional journey, confronting her past decisions and reevaluating her future. This device allows Sam to explore what might have happened had she made different choices in her past, specifically regarding her relationship with Damon. Sam’s struggles, from dealing with her mother’s abandonment to her fears of stagnation in her life, are portrayed with raw honesty. Damon, on the other hand, is a steady presence, offering support and understanding. Secondary characters throughout the novel contribute varied perspectives, including those of LGBTQIA+ people, different generations, and various cultures and traditions. While there are few moments of intimacy throughout the story, the themes of self-identity and self-fulfillment sometimes outshine the relationship itself.
VERDICT Combining the concept of 13 Going on 30 with 2000s nostalgia, La Rosa’s memorable storytelling is engaging, bringing readers into a world filled with raw emotions, complex relationships, and intricate character development.
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