Never Back Down

Never Back Down

3.75 (24 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Jack Landry, a promising high school baseball player, and his best friend, Elphege Beaupre, live by the motto 'Never back down, never instigate'. It's a rule of stubborn passivity that Jack will follow to the end of his days. Unconsciously burdened by his heritage, hemmed in by his working-class parents' submission to authority, the church, and a life of hard work, young Jack still has big dreams. Yet his warring values and desires lead to two mistakes in his youth that will colour the rest of his days. The first causes great harm to his one and only love, a half-Cajun Gulf Coast girl. In a world where one is asked to take responsibility for actions but not always suffer the consequences, Jack punishes himself. Following the tenets of Catholicism, he embarks on a lifelong penance to atone for his sin. The subsequent renunciation of his dreams appears to be Jack's second mistake. Or is it?
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 26.16mm | 471.74g
  • Lincoln, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 1567924328
  • 9781567924329

Flap copy

In this, Ernest Hebert's most autobiographical novel to date, Jack Landry, haunted by dreams of a tragedy that occurred centuries before he was born, is introduced as a promising high school baseball player from the mill town of Keene, New Hampshire. A young boy when the novel opens in July 1953, Jack and his best friend, Elphege Beaupre, devise a motto to live by: Never back down, never instigate. It's a rule of stubborn passivity Jack will follow to the end of his days.

Unconsciously burdened by his French-Canadian heritage, hemmed in by his working-class parents' submission to authority, the church, and a life of hard work, young Jack still has big dreams. Yet his warring values and desires lead to two mistakes in his youth that will color the rest of his days. The first causes great harm to his first and only love, a half-Cajun Gulf Coast girl (and the boss's daughter). In a world where one is asked to take responsibilities for actions but perhaps not suffer the consequences, Jack punishes himself. Following the tenets of Catholicism, he embarks on a lifelong penance to atone for his sin. The subsequent renunciation of his dreams appears to be Jack's second mistake. But is it?

Hebert is a master storyteller who, in addition to creating memorable characters and gripping narratives, does not shy away from the big questions. In Never Back Down, he raises more than a few: At what price, success? Is redemption possible? Can one live by a motto? What does it mean to take responsibility? The portrait Hebert gives us of Jack Landry's life of menial labor, joie de vivre, and a love that just won't die not only raises these questions but answers them as well.
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Review quote

"He writes with a grace, precision, and humor that makes one feel he will do for the hinterlands what John Updike did for the suburbs." (New York Times)"
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About Ernest Hebert

Ernest Hebert lives in New Hampshire and teaches writing at Dartmouth College. His novels in-clude The Old American and the acclaimed six-volume Darby series.
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Rating details

24 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 25% (6)
4 33% (8)
3 38% (9)
2 0% (0)
1 4% (1)
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