Published: August 2009, Hardie Grant Egmont
Pages: 183 pages, paperback
Acquired: Sent for review by Hardie Grant Egmont
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.
My review: I’m a big fan of multiple viewpoints, if done well I think this method can make a book truly brilliant. I’m happy to report that this is done really well in Outside In, a story about a girl who watches her high school’s ‘popular group’ and makes observations about their lives.
At first, I thought the whole premise was a little creepy – a nameless teenage girl observing the lives of her high school peers from the shadows, it just seemed a little unsettling. However, when I got past the first few chapters and began to get to know the characters a little better I really began to enjoy the story.
There are a lot of characters in Outside In so it’s not the easiest read as there are so many different personalities to get to know, though I don’t think they’re all distinguishable from each other as well as they could be. There are many relevant teenage issues dealt with in Outside In, including sex, dating, eating disorders and the like, so it is quite an intense read that may not be wholly suitable for younger teens.
While Outside In may appear to be a standard high school novel on first glance it does have a lot to offer. I didn’t notice this one when it was first released, perhaps because it’s an Australian book but I’m really glad I received a copy for review and it’s one that I’d definitely consider rereading at a later date. If you like your YA fiction with a little bite then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Outside In.
First line: ‘Jordan was back at school.’
Total: 15/20 (C)