Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Outside In

From GoodReads: From Memorial Day until the student workers and tourists leave in the fall, the island community of Put-in-Bay, Ohio, thrives on alcohol, drugs, sexual experimentation, and any other means of forgetting responsibilities. To Brad Shepherd—recently forced out of his job as a junior high math teacher after the overdose death of a student—it’s exactly the kind of place he’s looking for.

Allured by the comfort and acceptance of the hedonistic atmosphere, Brad trades his academic responsibilities and sense of obligation for a bouncer’s flashlight and a pursuit of the endless summer. With Cinch Stevens, his new best friend and local drug dealer, at his side, Brad becomes lost in a haze of excess and instant gratification filled with romantic conquests, late-night excursions to special island hideaways, and a growing drug habit. Not even the hope from a blossoming relationship with Astrid, a bold and radiant Norwegian waitress, nor the mentoring from a mysterious mandolin player named Caldwell is enough to pull him out of his downward spiral. But as Labor Day approaches, the grim reality of his empty quest consumes him. With nowhere left to run or hide, Brad must accept that identity cannot be found or fabricated, but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go.

A look at one man's belated coming of age that's equally funny, earnest, romantic, and lamenting, Doug Cooper’s debut novel explores the modern search for responsibility and identity, showing through the eyes of Brad Shepherd how sometimes, we can only come to understand who we truly are by becoming the person we’re not.

My Thoughts: First of all, I love that this book was set on Put-In-Bay. As a lifelong Ohio resident, I’m quite familiar with Put In Bay and the surrounding islands. Reading about locales and even the way Cooper describes the ferry boat ride from the mainland instantly swept me back to past trips. This debut novel is about a young man’s journey to cast off responsibility and lose himself into a world of late nights, drugs, and sex is a fantastic read. Narrated in first person, the main character, while at times not likable, is definitely relatable.

I appreciate that this coming of age novel isn’t about a teenager, but instead a 28 year old who spent his early 20’s doing what he thought he was supposed to do – going to college and graduate school, becoming a teacher, working on being an adult. It takes a tragedy like a student overdosing to make him question all of that. The quarter life crisis exists and sometimes it takes throwing everything aside and starting over again to realize who you truly are and what you want in life. Sometimes you have to experience things you might not have ever experienced; in the end you’ll be better for having had those experiences.

Outside In is a quick, engaging read I thoroughly enjoyed and I bet you would as well!

For further insight into the characters, themes, and plot stop by Doug Copper’s blog.

To win your own copy of Outside In, simply leave a comment on the blog and a winner will be selected using a random number generator. 

Disclaimer: I was provided this book for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.