Although I approached Backwards skeptically, apprehensive of a novel that appeared more gimmick than plot, Mitchell quieted all my misgivings within the book’s first few pages. Backwards doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable topics such as suicide and teen drinking, nor does it exploit these hardships for the sake of suspense. Rather, Mitchell addresses numerous difficult topics with poignancy and tact. Mitchell depicts the main characters with a rich, endearing complexity, and Backwards proved more of a character study than a pacing novelty. Speaking of pacing, Backwards progresses fairly briskly, and Mitchell’s vivid, lyrical prose mesmerizes readers from the get-go. Though the twist ending initially struck me as incongruous to the rest of the plot, I now realize that it’s sometimes justified to sacrifice plot on the altar of profundity. In conclusion, not only did Todd Mitchell’s Backwards wow me, it also explored the sensitive topic of teen suicide in a respectful— yet wholly engaging— way.