In Backtracked the author makes use of the popularity of time travel in fiction to drive home lessons for everyone on individual worth and self-reliance. It’s 2006 in New York and Tommy, 15, has fallen into depression and despair from being compared to his older brother Jimmy, a firefighter killed in 9/11. He loves riding the subways and knows them well, tagging the subway lines at night and letting his schoolwork fall off until a confrontation with parents and school authorities takes place. He resolves to flee to Las Vegas and, before he goes, plays a dreadful prank in the subway station. Just when he realizes that setting off a fake bomb has led to disaster, he is sent back in time: first to 1918, then to 1932, and then to 1942. Each episode has its trials, and he meets people whose reality he now shares, when before these situations were only vaguely understood history lessons. The evolving New York railway system is used to good effect, even after young Thomas returns to his proper era and visits a subway museum which eerily includes him in old film clips.