Named one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020
Named one of Bank Street Best Books of 2021
This timely, emotionally-resonant story about a teen girl dealing with the aftermath of a tragic shooting is a must-read from an exciting new YA talent.
Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she’s being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.
Then he comes back: Robert Newton, Johanna’s father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that’s not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn’t kill Mandy–it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.
Now Johanna has to sort through it all–the return of her absentee father, her grandparents’ lies, her part in her mother’s death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?
In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.
“Richards deftly explores the myriad emotional struggles after an accidental gun death. . . Tragic, moving, and genuine.” –School Library Journal, starred review
“A valuable take on a timely issue.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“[Johanna] is an admirable, convincing heroine who is determined to make things right for herself.” –Publishers Weekly
“A testament to the healing power of community, love and forgiveness. An honest, wrenching and important read.” –Sarah Holt, Left Bank Books
“A heartbreaking, powerful, essential read.” –Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks
“This book is haunting, but it is also hopeful. . . With heartfelt, brutal honesty searing every page, this is the kind of book that reminds readers that they have voices, and they can make changes.” –Ava Tusek, Second Star to the Right
Back Talk (Flux/2007)