*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Here’s the thing about being Inside. Ain’t no one believes that they are.
Ele has never been Outside.
She has never seen a tree or felt the rain.
Her whole world is Inside
With her books and the Others and Him.
But here’s the secret . . .
Ele’s getting out.
Wow! Well, I could go for the easy comparison here and cite the similarities between the plot here and Room (Emma Donoghue), but that would be selling Outside short.
Sarah Ann Juckes has taken the premise of a child growing up trapped and isolated and given it a fresh voice of its own… Ele’s voice.
Ele is our main character and she is fierce and brave and scared and determined and so very strong. Her life is devastatingly bleak and yet she faces it; more than faces it, she faces it down!
I will warn that the whole book is pretty much trigger after trigger. There is child abuse and neglect, sexual assault, physical violence. No gratuitous details are given, but the peripheral details – the smells and sounds, hints and hesitations – paint a clearer picture than anything graphic could. I felt nauseous and rage-filled from the first few pages to the end.
There are plenty of mysteries to solve along with Ele as she attempts to improve her situation. Whilst she tries to figure out whether Outside exists and how she would vanquish a dragon, the reader ponders who (or what) the Others may be, how Ele ended up there, and how she can possibly get (and stay) away.
The ending was perfect. I didn’t see what was coming, and thought the author captured a nice balance of revealing and holding back; sadness and hope.
If you can stomach a tough and heartbreaking story, expertly told, with a compelling and memorable narrator, then Outside is for you. Bring tissues and a pillow to punch.
The Proof of the Outside – number one: Books.
Books are truth and they all show the Inside and the Outside. Outside is trees and gingerbread houses. Inside is walls.
We got three books. The Alphabet Book. An Encyclopaedia of British Trees. My First Book of Fairy Stories.
Books are my windows. They show me everything I need to know to be an Outside Person, from killing Dragons to growing beanstalks. It’d be awful dark Inside without no books.
– Sarah Ann Juckes, Outside
Outside releases on Amazon today!