Review Blog

Feb 02 2010

Outside In by Chrissie Keighery

cover image

Hardie Grant Egmont, Victoria. 2009.
This Australian novel is about teenagers' angst but serves as a stark contrast to the often slick American versions. The boys and girls here are all struggling to cope with family or self esteem issues. We have parental separation, anorexia and bulimia, teenage crushes, and loneliness.
The difference here is that the group members are supportive of each other and it is this which enables them to survive and grow. Parents are often remote or absent. We get inside the kids' heads and understand their confusion. Jordan and Jack realize they have in common spending part of the week with their fathers, Sam is mortified when a girl tells him he needs to shave, talented Cecilia feels she must be perfect, Meredith laughs too much to cover up her inadequencies and Renee is the outsider.
Whilst it feels all too authentic, sadly, there isn't much plot, nor much fun either. It seems to be aimed at either reassuring certain teenagers they are not alone or educating/confronting others about the plights of their classmates. Either way it offers insight into why people behave as they do.
It's just that neither the cover nor the blurb call out to be picked up and there is nothing particularly distinguishing about any of the characters. The 14 year old I gave it to enjoyed it, but found the ending too sudden and vague. The book does finish on a positive note and emphasizes the healing power of friendship.
One for the library; teachers and librarians could direct certain students to it.
Kevyna Gardner

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