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Backwater

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,030 ratings  ·  127 reviews
Stuck in a family overflowing with lawyers, Ivy Breedlove longs to be understood, to break free of unfair expecta-tions and to find the truth about the mysterious hermit aunt who broke the family mold -- the relative no one will talk about. With an outrageous mountain guide leading the way, Ivy sets out on the journey of a lifetime to find the missing link in the Breedlove ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Puffin (first published May 24th 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,928)
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Nicole Norton
I enjoyed this book; yes, yes, I did. I enjoyed reading about a character who wanted to be a historian and who felt connected to her ancestors because my family and religion is very into genealogy and learning about your ancestors. Also, this book has wilderness adventure in it for all of you explorers out there because the main character sets off (with a guide) into the frozen wilderness to find her long-lost aunt that no one has heard from in years.

Language: 0
Violence: 0
Sexual References: 0
Dr
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Fred Pollock
Once again Joan Bauer has created a spunky, smart, and independent main character that you'd love to be best friends with! Ivy's family has great expectations of what her future holds. Everyone in the Breedlove family grew up to become lawyers...well everyone worth anything, anyone who isn't "backwater." That's what they call people who aren't as smart or as sophisticated or as...well whatever they are. The problem is that Ivy doesn't want to become a lawyer. She wants to be an historian. For he ...more
Haley
A gem of a book, short but meaningful. Goes in deep about family stuff and acceptance. Reccomended to teen girls, because it's not just some hotshot book about cheerleaders and true love.
Heather
Great book. I felt so similar to the main character in many of the quirks. Loved her fight to do family history.
Max Maxwell
Apr 27, 2009 Max Maxwell rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody... don't read crap like this
Recommended to Max by: It was part of my Young Adult Lit course
This was average. Basic young adult lit chick drama. Very, very annoying cover. Either that photoshopped chickadee is the size of a bumblebee, or the girl's head is 17 inches wide. Your call.

[From my teacher notes:]

The key conflicts work on two levels, literally and symbolically. Literally, there are conflicts between Ivy and her family and Jo and her family. But these conflicts represent philosophical conflicts. For example, Ivy’s conflict with Fiona, described in detail in the start of the boo
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Melissa
I absolutely loved all the characters in this book and it was a great story. There were a couple of things that bothered me though and I'm giving them here with a *spoiler alert*:

1. There were no Breedloves on the Mayflower. And no woman buried her husband at sea during the Mayflower voyage. There was only 1 passenger that died during the Mayflower voyage and he was a crew member. So when Ivy said she came from Mayflower stock and told the story of her ancestor, there was no historical truth to
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Stephanie Kenner
Family History/Misfits

Ivy Breedlove comes from a family of lawyers who expect her to follow in the family footsteps. The problem is, Ivy isn't interested in becoming a lawyer. She loves her family, but has always felt like she doesn't quite fit in. She is, however, interested in family history and has been attempting to compile the history of her family into a book, but it can't be completed without her Aunt Josephine's story. Jo didn't quite fit into the family either and left many years earlie
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Natalie
I went into this book unfamiliar with the author, or anything else she had written. The cover looked good (i know, i know) and the snippet on the back seemed semi-interesting, so I gave it a go. I felt like it was more a short story (or the cliff notes)or a smaller part of a larger story that could have been told. Yes, I understand the story is really about Ivy finding her Aunt Josephine (and herself) but there was ample opportunity to explore other characters and expand upon their relationships ...more
Amanda
3.5 While the writing and style is definitely up to Joan Bauer's best standards, the storyline didn't excite or interest me as much as some other books of hers. Ivy is stuck in a family of lawyers. The Breedloves are all lawyers. The problem is that Ivy doesn't want to be a lawyer when she grows up; she wants to be a historian. And she gets some good practice and experience while researching her family's history. It is there that Ivy begins to yearn to learn more about her mysterious Aunt Joseph ...more
Laina
Dec 29, 2008 Laina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teen readers (but adults would enjoy it, too).
I just reread this book, and I felt it only fair to rewrite my review because what I learn changes every time I read a book. So prepare yourself for a long review: *Takes deep breath*

Um... wow. Do I use that expression enough? Joan Bauer is a genius and nothing less. Her writing is witty, beautiful, and full of the main character's voice. I love the way it's so simple, and yet it's what the story calls for. Sure, she uses a lot of short sentences, but it makes the story crisp clear and potent. T
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K.
KEEPER!

Despite the fact that I was worried about the "voice" in the first paragraph, it grew on me and was a wonderful book.

Probably for ages 13+. Not anything too mature in it, but just because I don't think the interest would be there.

Absolutely wonderful story, great characters and well-written. A girl in a family of lawyers is obsessed with family history (and history in general), and has to show herself and that family that it's okay to be different.

This little book (185 pages) was abso
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Emily
Ivy Breedlove is a teenage girl who is struggling to make her family listen to her thoughts and wishes, instead of what they think she is thinking. Ivy would rather be a historian than a lawyer, like almost every other person of her large extended family.

To fulfill this dream of becoming a historian, she is trying to get all of her family's history down, even though only one other living relative supports her project.

While tracking down family stories, Ivy must track down her reclusive aunt who
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Jeni Enjaian
A review from my old blog...

I think I have found a new favorite author.

Bauer enchants with this novel. I have to admit though that I felt an extra affinity for the main character, Ivy, because of her ardent love of history. Ivy loves history even more than I do and with a dedication that I would love to have.

Ivy Breedlove, a lover of history in a family of lawyers, attempts to create a family history for the birthday of a beloved aunt. She battles the expectations of her entire family that all B
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Lola
Finally, Joan Bauer has a main character whose after my own heart. Ivy Breedlove comes from a family of lawyer, but her dream is to be a historian. She has been busy composing her family's history for her great Aunt's 80th birthday party. While do her research, she realizes there is one person no one in the family likes to talk about: her Aunt Josephine. Determined to find her aunt to get her side of the story, Ivy tracks her down to a cabin way up in the mountains.

I'm clapping for Ms. Bauer
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JoDean
Mar 10, 2011 JoDean rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JoDean by: K
Shelves: girls-book-list
Great little book for 13-14 yo girls. Modern without being faddish.

Some great quotes:

"We put you in situations you've never been in before so the true sense of your grit and courage can come out."

"I thought of my female ancestors slaving over the pot and kettle, getting up before dawn to prepare breakfast for the family, spinning yarn, making the coarse fabric called 'homespun.' Women had to keep the fire going in the big open fireplaces. Everything they did took time, strength, and patience. If
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Amanda
I can't decide how to describe this book. It wasn't amazing, but something about it kept me interested until the end. It is about this girl named Ivy Breedlove who is stuck in a family of lawyers. In the Breedlove family, it is a big deal if you don't become a lawyer. Ivy wants nothing more than to be a historian and not a lawyer. Of course her father hates that and without a mother there to guide her, she often feels lost. So she turns to her aunt Tib who is a retired history teacher and togeth ...more
Veronica
I wasn't entirely sure how much I would like this book when I bought it. After reading it in an afternoon I can now say that 'Backwater' is one of my all time favorite books. This is the type of story that reaches deep into your soul and changes a fundamental part of your being, causing you to look at everything in a completely new way.
Anna
Jun 15, 2008 Anna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls grade 8 and up
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
What I loved about this book is that I felt such a unique calmness while reading it. The story is about a high school student that is struggling to learn the true history of her family, particularly that of her dead mother and estranged aunt. She sets out on a quest to find her aunt and learns a lot about herself.

The story is interesting, the main character is extremely likable and well developed, and the story leaves you feeling good. I would describe the book as very "soothing."

My only compla
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Adrienne
Born into a family where everyone is expected to become lawyers, Ivy has never quite been accepted. Rather than wanting to practice law, she wants to be a historian and her current project is working on her own family's history. As part of that project, she decides to go find her long-lost aunt Jo, the last person who defied family tradition. Jo has secluded herself in the mountains, but Ivy is determined to find her and hear her story, even if she has to hire a wilderness guide and hike through ...more
Dotty
Ivy’s heart is in love with history, especially family of history, but she’s stuck in a family of lawyers who can’t seem to relate to her. In her quest for the family tree she visits her Aunt Jo and tries to find her roots. Little does she know she will almost lose her life in the process.

The author has created some wonderful characters. Ivy can be seen growing in her understanding of her family, especially learning that people aren’t always as they seem nor are they one dimentional. Each part o
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Bella Noelle
This book. READ IT. NO MATTER what age you are. It's sweet and heartwarming and I remember being so happy while reading this book. It's a beautiful title for a beautiful book with beautiful dialogue. It will always be one of my favorite books I have ever read.
Kiirsi Hellewell
I love Joan's books, and I was doubly attracted to reading this one because of the adorable chickadee on the cover. Interesting plot, but I felt it was a bit odd and sparse at times. Still, it was an enjoyable story.
Jean Marie
Another good YA book by Joan Bauer. The main character is a historian stuck in a family of lawyers. An adventure to find a reclusive aunt living in the wildnerness and reclaim that part of family history ensues.
Kylee
I've always enjoyed Joan Bauer's books. She writes a lot of young adult fiction, and I've been reading her ever since sixth grade. This book is no different from all her other ones. Her main character is a teenager with a certain interest, and through that interest, it becomes clear the kind of person he or she is. And I'm not saying that her characters define themselves by what they do, but they have their passion because of the kind of person they are, and that's what I really like about her b ...more
Danielle
Jan 03, 2009 Danielle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Late elem./early middle schoolers in search of the truth
Shelves: fiction
Truthfully, I randomly picked this book off the shelf at the library hoping for a short, easy-read by a familiar author. But what I got from this book was so much more! The themes, of which there are plenty, were hidden within the depths of each and every page. And the plot...so surreal! I was absorbed in this book to the point where I was no longer Danielle, but I was Ivy (the main character).

The one star knocked off in my review is purely for 4 reasons. One, the length (185 pages) was much too
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Sarah
Here's the thing about Joan Bauer. Once you've read one of her books, you have an idea of what all her books are like: Straight-forward young woman (or man, in the case of Stand Tall) discovers that s/he is capable of more than s/he knew.

Bauer's got her thing going, and it's a good thing, but I know that she's not going to surprise me with a wildly new plot line. Nonetheless, some of her books do stick out as being particularly enjoyable: Hope Was Here, Rules of the Road, Best Foot Forward, Squ
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Raylani Reis
I liked this book but and it was a good story and well written. If you're looking for a good story and moral without romance this is for you.
Alicia
Bauer always gives readers hope and peace. In this book, Ivy deals with an overbearing father who is pushing her, like his father did to him, to become a lawyer. But instead, Ivy would rather dug up the past and be a historian. After a journey to visit a long-lost aunt in the mountains, Ivy discovers what is important while understanding her father's view.

It's a gift, I told her. You've got to get behind a person's public mask to find the real humanity.

Fear is a gift, Breedlove. It shows us how
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Bridget R. Wilson
Ivy Breedlove doesn’t want to be a lawyer. She knows from genealogical research that not every Breedlove has been a lawyer. She wants to be a historian. To complete the Breedlove family history, Ivy seeks her reclusive Aunt Josephine. Her search for Josephine is also Ivy’s searching for her own identity. Her trek to Aunt Jo’s Backwater defines who Ivy is.

What I thought: As a family history buff, I loved all the quirky historical facts Ivy threw out during the narrative. Here dedication to resear
...more
Nicole
Truth, beauty and goodness depicted with precise language. Joan Bauer's writing will do your heart good whether young or old.
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From: http://www.joanbauer.com/jbbio.html

July 12, 1951 - I was born at eleven A.M., a most reasonable time, my mother often said, and when the nurse put me in my mother's arms for the first time I had both a nasty case of the hiccups and no discernible forehead (it's since grown in). I've always believed in comic entrances.

As I grew up in River Forest, Illinois, in the 1950's, I seem to remember a
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More about Joan Bauer...
Hope Was Here Close to Famous Rules of the Road (Rules of the Road, #1) Almost Home Peeled

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“If you worry about every little thing you're going to have one thoroughly miserable life.” 8 likes
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