Behold, the cover for my new book! (and a new website too)

Backwards CoverHere it is, the cover for Backwards (coming out October 8th, from Candlewick Press).

Please tell me what you think. How would you judge this book from its cover?

And if you have any suggestions on the new website, please let me have them. I’m still making plenty o’ changes.

Many thanks for Carolyn Yalin for creating this site, and for teaching me how to use Word Press. If you, too, want a nifty site like this, and some shiny Word Press knowledge, you can contact her at

And now, for a little more on Backwards, if you’re curious. Here’s the back cover stuff:

It was Saturday, November 15th, but I didn’t know that. I wouldn’t understand the strange countdown of days that formed my existence until later. All I knew then was that I was alive, alone, and trapped in the body of a dead person.

            At the moment that Dan’s life ends, the Rider’s begins. Unwillingly tied to Dan, the Rider finds himself moving backwards in time, each day revealing more of the series of events that lead to Dan’s suicide.

           As the Rider struggles to figure out what he’s meant to do, he revels in the life that Dan ignores. Beyond the simple pleasures of a hot shower and the sun on his face, the Rider also notices the people around Dan: his little sister, always disappointed by her big brother’s rejection, and his overwhelmed mom, who can never rely on Dan for help. Most of all, the Rider notices misfit Cat with her purple hair, artistic talent, and fragile beauty. But Cat doesn’t want anything to do with Dan, paying attention instead to friendly, charismatic Finn. While the days move in reverse and Halloween looms, Cat becomes the center of the Rider’s world, until the Rider finds out why Cat is so angry with Dan and what the Rider must do to make things right.

*You can Pre-order it now. Hardcover, ebook, and an audiobook (produced by Brilliance Audio) to be simultaneously released*

Stuff I probably shouldn’t tell you about why I wrote Backwards:

I’ll be honest, this is an odd little book. I wrote it more out of necessity than intention (in fact, the initial idea hit me with such insistence that I had to pull over no less than six times on a drive home from Denver to write it down).

Around that time a couple students at the school where I taught killed themselves, a mother wrote me a letter about her son who killed himself, and someone close to me had recently attempted suicide. I felt surrounded by the issue and I wanted to do something about it. The more I looked into it, though, the less satisfied I was with the way a lot of fiction dealt with suicide. Some books seemed to glorify suicide, while others were so depressing that by the end of the book I wanted to curl up and disappear. But as a teacher, and a person, I’d seen too many lives be impacted by suicide and other self-destructive behaviors to stay silent.

In writing Backwards, I wanted to grapple with the seriousness of suicide (and other difficult issues like bullying and sexual assault), while also writing an engaging, entertaining, and hopefully uplifting story. The only way I could think of to do this was to have the story be narrated by a character who’s traveling backwards in time. So the book begins with both a death and a birth, as the narrator comes into this world. What happens afterwards (or before) is something I hope you’ll read to find out.

BackwardsOpeningOne more confession… initially, I thought Backwards would be a simple story, but it ended up being the most complex and challenging thing I’ve ever written. Throughout it all, Candlewick has been incredibly supportive of the project, and the book design they’ve done is amazing. I’ve never seen a book like it before. I hope you’ll check it out. Here’s the opening paragraph (check out that backwards font):




  1. Eric Easley says

    The cover looks great! Kind of reminds me of Quantum Leap (which is a good thing). Also, I like how the figure is blacked-out, which makes me think the book will be a lot about personal identity. Both of these seem supported by the back cover blurb, so hopefully I’ve got something right. Can’t wait to read it!

    • Thanks Eric. You’re definitely on the right track. And thank you for being the first person ever to comment on the site. You win… a brand new house in another galaxy. Enjoy!

  2. Love the cover . . . I cannot wait to read the book ~ such an amazing idea!

  3. I thought the same thing about Quantum Leap (and good connection here, too) Looking forward to reading Backward. And to your class next month!

  4. I read this from NetGalley and I really enjoyed it! I read it a few days ago and it hasn’t left me. It is too high for my primary demographic (grades 1- 5) but I thought it was done well.

    • Hi Julie,

      Thank you very much for reading and reviewing Backwards. This is the first review of the book I’ve seen. I’m grateful to you for the care you took in summarizing and reviewing it. And I love the connections to curriculum standards and the discussion and assignment ideas you included. In fact, since this is the first review I’ve seen, I made a blog post on your review, and linked it to your excellent website. I hope you don’t mind. Here it is:

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