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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Outside In by Chrissie Keighery (Perry)

"From the outside looking in."

I think at one point in our lives that short sentence applies to us. I move a lot, and more often than not I find myself starting over and over again to find new friends and just try to be part of a group, which is never easy. Chrissie Keighery's novel discusses that and more, because more often than not, people like to see what's on the outside, but how about what happens on the inside? Now we get to know it all through the eyes of one girl on the outside, trying her best to look in.

Title: Outside In by Chrissie Keighery (Perry)
Pages: 208
Release Date: August 2009
Published by: Hardie Grant Egmont
Source: Publisher (thanks Jennifer!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (from Goodreads):

The cool group at school is not as luminous as it seems. Sure they appear to have it all, but there are problems lurking just below the surface. Beautiful Jordan is struggling to cope because of her newly divorced parents, Meredith covers her past by playing the clown, Cecilia hides her feelings and a shameful secret, Sam is growing up, and Jack is caught off-guard when he falls in love for the first time. And then there’s someone else. She’s not part of the group. The others have no idea she’s there. But she knows that there are cracks. She watches them from the inside, out. From the outside, in.

The cool group may not be as cool as they seem. The perfect ones may not be as perfect as you think they are. Told from the perspective of the various characters that gives life to this novel, and an unknown source from the outside, Jordan, Jack, Sam, Meredith, Lee and Cecilia's lives are about to be seen from the inside out in this moving, heartfelt book. They were all part of a clique, but they have their own stories to tell.

Jordan is the it girl, but they didn't know how much she's been struggling with her parents divorce. Jack is the jock, a great athlete with his sights focused on the State team, but no one knows what happens when Jack comes home to a drunk father who couldn't bother watching his son's basketball game. Lee was the poster girl for kindness, but nobody knows how much she tries to be that way. And now she likes the same guy Jordan likes. Will she play the friendship card and be nice or break out from her shell and take a chance? Sam is the clique's nerd, awkward, always unsure about everything, even the way he feels about Meredith. And Meredith is the playful one, always making a joke out of anything and everything. But does her friends know how much she misses her mom? How she struggles without her? And then there's Cecilia. Quiet, withdrawn, petite, graceful Cecilia. But does her friends know the horrors she does to herself to stay the way she is?

It's worth a look to see how each of their stories unfold through each character's point of view. The shift from a particular character's perspective to an unknown person gives the reader a whole new understanding of that person, because you don't just get to read what each of the characters think about themselves and their lives, you get to know what others, another person they don't know, think about them. You get two sides of the story and I think that makes the entire novel a lot more interesting. More complete, a little bit whole, maybe more than what was supposed to be seen.

But it's not just about Jordan, or Jack, or Lee. Or even Sam, or Meredith or even Cecilia. It's also about that "unknown" person. The one who sees all of them from afar, looking, just wanting to be a part of something. Little by little this person makes herself known, taking her first steps, no matter how small they are, to make people like Jordan and her friends see that someone like her exists. This particular part of the book is what I liked the most. It's not just about the "somebodys", but it's also about that "nobody".

Outside In makes us realize that none of us are perfect. That even the most popular girl, the most popular boy, is also struggling. It makes us realize that maybe we just need to look a little more closely to see the flaws, what's really underneath, what's real, and think that like everyone else, people like them have problems to deal with. That they also get hurt and make mistakes like all of us.

The content made up for lethargic pace of the book. A great coming of age novel, of first loves, family, acceptance, and ultimately, of enduring friendship. Once again, Chrissie Keighery has written a novel about what it's like growing up, a book which we can all relate to because at one point in our lives we were like them, we're all young once and we faced the same fears, problems, and got through them not just with our family, but with our friends as well. With realistic characters and overall, an honest, simple story, Outside In is a great read.

Chrissie Keighery, with this book, is definitely in my list of one of the best contemporary authors. Her books will be a must-buy from now on. Give this book a chance everyone!

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
I'm starting to love this particular art style! Simple but lovely!

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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