Book Review: Outside In by Doug Cooper

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Why This Book 
In early 2017, I had drinks with a former colleague when we discussed my goal to publish a novel that year. She had grown up with someone who published a book and offered to introduce us. I said ‘sure’ and never actually contacted the guy. Months later, I signed a contract to publish my book, then realized I never followed through, so I sent a message, we chatted a bit, and I thought… I should read Doug Cooper‘s book: Outside In. I got hold of a copy, it sat on the shelves for a bit, but I decided I wasn’t allowed to buy/download another book in 2018 until I finished everything I already owned… hence how this one got picked for January!

outside.jpg
Plot, Characters & Setting 
Brad Shepherd is a middle school teacher whose student overdoses in class. As part of the Administration’s way to handle the student’s death, Brad’s out of a job. He heads to Put-in-Bay, Ohio to meet a friend and have a summer off, where he can party for a little bit and find his new life path. When he arrives, a life he never knew, or perhaps had forgotten, begins to surround him: he’s quick to fool around with a bunch of women, drink himself silly and experiment with a range of drugs. Over the course of the summer, he makes several mistakes and finds himself going off into a darker oblivion. His family re-surfaces, and a friend has an accident, which helps re-structure his course, but life is definitely going to be different in his future.

Key Thoughts 
For starters, I’ll say the book is a very realistic portrayal of what could happen in this environment. It’s not something I’m familiar with, but based on tons of movies, other books and conversations that touch on these subjects, I’d comfortable stating it is accurately written. That said, it is not an environment I would ever want to be in, nor did I like ANY of the characters in the book. They were a mess, indulgent, immature and frustrating. BUT — that’s the point and they belonged being that way for the story. Cooper brought out my inner ‘angry man’ attitude over people who behave like this, so major kudos to him for a brilliant portrayal of his character set.

The writing has quality and brings to life both the background and the tone you need to be successful in a book like this one. While there are some plot points, e.g. the death of the student, the move to the island for the summer and the results of some of the drug overdoses, it’s essentially a story about a group of experiences people have while drinking and taking various drugs. It’s of course larger than just that simple observation, but you have to be comfortable reading about this side of life to enjoy the book. It’s not going to be ideal for everyone, but it definitely has a large audience to work with. Once you get beyond drugs/drinking, you start questioning how we make choices, our fears, what makes us fall for another person, how does someone guilt you into doing things…

The dialogue and narration provide all the details readers need to know what’s going on in the main character’s head; you will hear his voice, see his actions, know the reasons (most of the time) and follow along on his journey. Sometimes you’ll think he’s stupid and full of fault, others you’ll know he’s suffering from a tragedy and just floating around without any anchor. For those reasons, it is pretty obvious that this has happened and continues to happen to people going through this stage of life. The sum of the parts equal the whole for me with this book. It’s a solid read, full of a wide range of situations and thought-provoking ideas. I think if I had gone through something like Brad did, I’d probably like the book even more. I ended up around 3.75 stars.

Summary 
I’m curious to read his other novel, The Investment Club, about a group of people in Las Vegas going through some life experiences at the Blackjack table. It seems this is the realm the author writes in… that space where the group of people interact in ways we can all relate to, but not nearly as far into the depths… and I’m confident when he hits on topics that are more pertinent to me, I’ll be really invested in the novel and have an entirely deeper connection to the author and his work. For now, I’m glad I read this one and look forward to reading more.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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11 thoughts on “Book Review: Outside In by Doug Cooper

    thebookwormdrinketh said:
    January 12, 2018 at 2:50 PM

    Imteresting concept for a book! I’m really interested to check it out as in today’s society an overdose in class is a very real concern. But, the thing that intrigues me most is how you describe the devolvement of his life after the move. It sounds like a real and dramatic read.

    Liked by 3 people

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 13, 2018 at 8:43 AM

      It is real. I think it shows a way over-indulgent side of life, and some people may read it and think ‘this is just ridiculous — he’s being stupid and why should I read about it’ and that’s a fair assessment too. I pushed beyond that to try to understand why he would behave the way he did. And the author’s a smart guy, so I think it was handled purposely to show the immaturity yet fear the MC was going thru. Good luck if you choose it.

      Liked by 1 person

    cwhiteweb said:
    January 12, 2018 at 4:07 PM

    Yeah, I also found the concept and storyline quite interesting! TBR

    Liked by 1 person

    BrizzleLass said:
    January 12, 2018 at 4:45 PM

    Haha I want to meet your inner “angry man” one day. I think he would be fun to converse with! This book sounds fun! They sound like the type of people I would have hung out with in my twenties! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    By Hook Or By Book ~ Book Reviews, News, & Other Stuff said:
    January 12, 2018 at 7:38 PM

    I like books that make you think “Wow. This could really happen.” Brad sounds like quite a complex character and you have me intrigued. I hope I can get this through my library.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 13, 2018 at 8:44 AM

      It is real. I think it shows a way over-indulgent side of life, and some people may read it and think ‘this is just ridiculous — he’s being stupid and why should I read about it’ and that’s a fair assessment too. I pushed beyond that to try to understand why the MC would behave the way he did. And the author’s a smart guy, so I think it was handled purposely to show the immaturity yet fear the MC was going thru. Good luck if you choose it.

      Liked by 2 people

    thebookwormdrinketh said:
    January 13, 2018 at 8:49 AM

    You you ever check into things I read you’ll see that I’m ok with pushing through the ridiculous! (check out the book ‘Shatnerquake’ and you’ll see what I mean!) books can have a point without being completely realistic or pushed a little too far (and sometimes, even in real life, people go a little too far!) Life is not always founded on good decisions! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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