Book: Outside In
Author: Doug Cooper (if you visit this site, watch out, it’s sort of terrifying)
Genre: Literary fiction
Source: Free from publisher, part of the TLC tour
Readability Rating: 3.5 stars
Morality Rating: 18+ for drug use and sexual situations
Buy the Book: Amazon
Outside In Book Summary
Outside In features the story of youngish Brad Shepherd, a former teacher who was asked to retire after a student died while in his class. Brad is naturally upset, and decides to take the summer off to think about what his next move should be. While on vacation, he gets sucked into a sort of low-life aimless scene, where drugs, alcohol, and listlessness rule the day. Through his drug haze, Brad must decide whether he wants to live this way for the rest of his life, or if he is ready to grow up and face the world.
About the Author (in his own words)
I love peanut butter. I mean most people do, but I eat-it-out-of-the-jar-with-a-spoon love it. I also am one of those people who loves both math and reading and writing and has a constant right/left brain battle for control going on. Maybe some day, one of the sides will win. It is quite exhausting.
Outside In is my first novel. I hope you enjoy it. I am currently living in Las Vegas working on my second novel, The Investment Club about five broken people who meet at a blackjack table and discover the greatest return comes from what you contribute to others. Hmm…blackjack and fiction? Sounds like the battle wages on.
I was interested in this book because I am at a similar age to Brad, but I was kind of surprised by the book itself. I don’t know how realistic this book is, simply because I doubt many people can afford to be drunk and high all the time while they try to figure out their life. However, there are a lot of late 20s and early 30s people who have no clue what to do, which I think, would make a book like this appealing.
Plot: This book is definitely a character-driven story. If you are waiting for the plot to arrive, you will not like this book. The plot is simply Brad hanging out, getting drunk, being high, and hooking up with random people (not always women). It is a character portrait of Brad and in a way, a look at the struggles of a generation that is considered children for too long. The book is fairly realistic in the way that many people go through a personal slump after being fired or having their career shut down unexpectedly. Not everyone responds this way, but I imagine many people wish they could deal with failure like Brad.
Characters: Outside In is all about the characters. Brad starts out as a straight-laced high school teacher, but he learns to let loose and not let things get to him so much throughout the course of the book. The other characters end up changing, too, sometimes in unexpected ways. I liked how Outside In portrays characters from a wide variety of backgrounds and with varying life choices. It makes the book feel more real, even if it is sort of depressing.
Setting: This book is set during the summer in a lake town in Ohio. That in itself is sort of depressing, but the most interesting thing about the setting is that it is a lot like one of those high school summer stories on steroids (or more likely cocaine, since that is what they use in the book). Everything is larger-than-life, with bigger parties, more drugs, more alcohol, and more “fun” than most people have in their entire lives.
Writing: I thought the writing style in Outside In was solid. I had no complaints, but there was nothing that particularly stood out to me either.
Outside In is definitely one of those coming-of-age literary books that is likely to win awards, but it isn’t too my personal taste. It reminded me a lot of Glazed City Eyes, which is another similar story about a person in their late 20s coming of age with a lot of drug use and parties. Personally, I don’t think drugs and alcohol use are how you grow up, but I think that is what Outside In was trying to say in the end.
Who should read this book: Anyone who likes coming of age stories and doesn’t mind graphic sexual scenes.
Open to US residents only. Open from May 22nd to June 22nd, 2014. Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter!