Pushing Back

Book One in the Boone Series

Fiction - Southern
328 Pages
Reviewed on 08/23/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Pushing Back is a work of fiction in the southern fiction, drama, and coming of age sub-genres, and was penned by author Jim Hartsell as Book One in the Boone Series. Written for mature audiences from teens upwards, the book does contain some use of explicit language and violence but it is quite mild and accessible to most readers. With no-one left to turn to, we meet our protagonist Boone as he decides that school is a waste of time, and is also still agonizing over what happened to his brother Frankie. So begins a gritty tale of a journey from boy to man, finding his way and learning whether he can ever trust anyone again.

Author Jim Hartsell delivers an excellent series opener which establishes a tough central character with depth and heart. One of the things which I really enjoyed about Boone’s character was the truth of him, giving us both his dark and light sides, and his struggles and poor decisions as well as the moments of triumph. This humanizes him and gives us a powerful emotional core as he moves through the plot, delivering a character-led story where the audience will surely be desperate to know how he comes out of each situation and tragedy. What results is an emotionally strong work that readers of all ages will be sure to relate to, and overall I would highly recommend Pushing Back as an accomplished work of drama, most suitable for fans of gritty realism and family strife.

Mamta Madhavan

Boone lived in a dysfunctional family, unsafe from the dark moods of his father. Part of it was his dad's liquor and part of it was the way he was treated. Pushing Back: Book One in the Boone Series by Jim Hartsell is sixteen-year-old Boone's story where he had to grow up and embrace adulthood due to the tragic circumstances in his life - both his parents ended up having a big fight and left him all alone to take care of himself. He did not feel bad about his father but missed his mother and his sister Hannah. He had no one to turn to and whatever money he had was gone. As the story progressed, this Appalachian teenager slowly took control of his life and found people on whom he could rely and ask for help.

Written from the perspective of the main character, Boone, Pushing Back traces his journey in an engaging way from that of a boy to becoming a survivor and reaching adulthood despite losses. The story is all about survival, courage, friendship, hope, perseverance, and facing challenges and struggles, both inner and outer, and finally being in control of life. Jim Hartsell's characterization of Boone and the other characters in the story is real and relatable. The detailed narration makes the scenes vivid and tangible for readers, and there is a tinge of sadness in watching him taking care of himself all on his own and growing up. Life can be tough as this story shows and what makes Boone's character appealing and loveable is the manner in which he turns the struggles of his life and makes things go his way. The open ending leaves readers eagerly waiting for the next book.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Pushing Back by Jim Hartsell is Book One in the Boone Series. Boone is an Appalachian teen. Tragedy forces him into adulthood long before he is ready for it. Just sixteen years old, Boone drops out of school to tend to his family farm. He can't accept what happened to his family. And if that weren’t enough, his father had a dark side to him and Boone can see that in himself. With just an elderly neighbor for company, Boone doesn’t have many options. He’s running out of money, he’s running out of luck and his daddy taught him just one useful thing – never trust anyone.

Pushing Back: Book One in the Boone Series by Jim Hartsell is a good read. It is written in the first person which is not easy to do – some can pull it off, some can’t. Jim Hartsell pulled it off perfectly. It's really a story of how Boone was thrown into the deep end, tragic circumstances ripping his family apart and forcing him to grow up faster than he should have done. Boone is a well-rounded character, as are the other couple of main characters in the story. It is graphic in places so not really recommended for young readers and there are some adult themes. It was a unique story but it is a little slow, not much action. It’s also quite deep in places, a real insight into Boone’s mind and how he deals with everything thrown at him. I read it all the way through and stayed with it and it is very well written.