Summary - Outside In explores friendships, divorce, body image and growing up in a deft, lyrical and moving way.
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. And then there's someone who'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 inside, out. From the outside, in.
Review - Australian YA is exceedingly strong at the moment, especially the fantastic contemporary content that is being released. Chrissie Keighery's Outside In is a thought provoking exploration of the chasm that exists between individual's, friend's and an outsider's perception of same events.
Using multiple protagonists, Keighery has made it possible for one friendship group to really deconstruct themselves as a group and as individuals. Most interesting of this is how the same events are told from varying viewpoints, allowing us the see a character from both an objective and full disclosed viewpoints. The overlapping method is always a risky one but it has been expertly handled in this tale.
That being said, the first chapter is from one of the more removed character's perceptive and it does make it harder to delve into the story. However, this was most probably a deliberate strategy as the other chapters start chipping away at her deliberate isolation and her friendship group's issues as well. There are many issues - anorexia, divorce, puberty, the opposite sex, rejection and the nature of friendship. The chapters are issue ridden due to the many characters, all with their separate issues. Though each issue is written realistically, the sheer number of issues could have been scaled back. This may not have been as much of stumbling block for me had there been one protagonist. Like an anthology, I would like to have read more about several of these characters in depth as they were very well written.
Vastly relatable, fantastic dialogue and an interesting structure make this a great read on teens.
Published: 6 August 2009
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
Publisher: Hardie Grant