Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: Outside In by Chrissie Keighery

Outside In by Chrissie Keighery
Genre: Contemporary > Teen Issues
Age Group: Young Adult 13+
Release Date: [Already Released] August 2009
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
ISBN-13:  9781921502361
RRP: $16.95 AUD

Cover love? 
At first, I thought little of the cover, until I recognised it's significance in the book! It's a beautiful piece of artwork, and I love the watercolour blending.

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.
A beautiful novella about figuring out who you are and how you fit in.


Outside In is a short and beautiful novella about finding where you belong in the tumultuous, confusing complexity that is teenage life. I read it in one sitting and was stunned by the truth that emanated from this powerful story.

This story describes the friendship dynamics between the "luminous" group at the narrator's school. The narrator is a new girl at the school, never identified until the end, who feels like she is always on the outside, the fringes of society, looking in, but never truly a part of it. The "luminous" group comprises of four outwardly content girls whose lives seem perfectly okay on the surface, but beneath the facade, there is tension as each girl secretly goes through individual trials and tribulations.

The book switches focus between all the characters, but never returning to any one, except the narrator. From her position outside the group, the narrator is able to sense more about the dynamics between the friends than the girls themselves. I liked this choice of structure as it truly is unique, lends a voice to every character, and shows us the troubles beneath the cool surface. However, this left little room for the characters to truly develop.

The writing is not something that stands out to me, but Keighery intelligently explores the themes of appearances versus reality. While each character has their own, very different but innately related, set of problems, they are characters that all could relate to. All social issues explored - divorce, low self-esteem, isolation, hurt, betrayal, friendship, love, eating disorders - are just as serious as each other, because of the immense effect that they have on that person. And I'm sure that at least one of those issues has affected everyone.

Outside In is a powerful story that lights up the darkness in the lives of others, and the raw emotions explored in this novella touched my heart with their truthfulness.


Outside In at Hardie Grant Egmont | Chrissie Keighery's Website