Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: Outside In by Doug Cooper

Outside In
Doug Cooper

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.

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Press
Publication Date: August 13, 2013

Kat's Review

This book started off fairly mainstream, but quickly made its way into the realm of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. I have mixed feelings about the novel as a whole. 

The protagonist was a bit difficult to like, because I found him to be immature. I also found his rapid descent into a full-blown drug problem to be a bit unbelievable. I felt at times that I was reading about a frat boy, not an adult. 

That said, the story documented one man's descent into a lifestyle that starts off fun, but quickly gets out of control. Brad's desire to blow off some steam and live life with no responsibilities after leaving his job lends to the initial party atmosphere. Too much alcohol and partying, no strings attached relationships, and sleeping away the day seem like just the life he's looking for. 

As the book progresses, his drug use and drinking increase, and getting high begins to take precedence over everything else. As things begin to spiral out of control, it becomes clear that he's on a collision course with disaster. 

Kat's Rating: Worth a Look

I wavered on what to rate this because in some ways this is an uncomfortable read. Days can run into each other in the narrative, but I think some of that is because the main character is losing his grip on reality as the book progresses. It wasn't my favourite book, but I found it to be well-written. I certainly think there's an audience for this, and I could see it being a bit of a cult fave.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley & the publisher in return for an honest review.

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