Matt Kerney is the son of complicated parents and living in a changing West. He must make his own path amid the turmoil of Prohibition, the Great Depression, and WWII. What mark will he make on the West and what marks will it leave in him?
Backlands portrays the historic and the everyday in a harsh, bittersweet, and compelling way. It is a tale of a family and the West between after WWI to during WWII. One theme is change of the West as the beautiful, vast and stark backlands of New Mexico are affected by modern life. Another theme is surviving, and trying to thrive, amidst challenges like the Depression and the dangers of WWII. The characters can fit into ‘typical’ Western molds- like Patrick Kerney being an independent rancher- but have dimensions to them that can make them seem real. Backlands offers a West in transition, a family saga, interesting characters, 20th century historical fiction, and a harsh/bittersweet tale.
Want other books like Backlands?
The tumultuous history of the West is seen through how various characters touch one place in Centennial by James A. Michener.
A rancher’s murder trial offers a look at the past and how the West has changed in Stand Proud by Elmer Kelton.
McGarrity used books like Brave Men by WWII columnist Eric Pyle to portray Matt Kerney’s experiences during WWII.
Matt Kerney works as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. McGarrity used books Coming of Age in the Great Depression: The Civilian Conservation Corps Experience in New Mexico 1933-1942 to write about Matt’s experience with this program.