Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Tish Cohen's inside out girl ~ Reviewed
Inside Out Girl: A Novel
by Tish Cohen
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 12, 2008)
Rachel Berman wants everything to be perfect. An overprotective single mother of two, she is acutely aware of the statistical dangers lurking around every corner—which makes her snap decision to aid a stranded motorist wholly uncharacteristic. Len Bean is stuck on the shoulder with Olivia, his relentlessly curious, learning disabled ten-year-old daughter. To the chagrin of Rachel's children, who are about to be linked to the most-mocked girl in school, Rachel and Len begin dating. And when Len receives terrible news, little Olivia needs a hero more than ever.
But the world refuses to be predictable. When personal crisis profoundly alters Rachel's relationship with a wild, very special little girl, this perfectionist mother finds herself drawn into a mystery from her past and toward a new appreciation for her own children's imperfect lives.
Character collectors are going to want to look into this novel which has character and realism that made it one of my more satisfying reads of late.
With humor and heart, Cohen fleshes out her characters into people you've run into or shared an elevator or dorm room with. In the weaving together of the satisfying story of Olivia Bean, the cast of inside out girl yanked on my hope and pulled at my compassion. Cohen writes with impressive skill. This novel is so multifaceted that could have gone sappy or morose but didn't despite a slightly too neat or maybe slightly rushed ending.
The subject matter is hard, life, death, illness, change and emotional challenges. Each character is presented as a lost person, sometimes barely functioning throughout overwhelming circumstances. The will to live and continue on resonates in Cohen's characters. I appreciated that though the themes are heavy and difficult I didn't feel jerked around emotionally. Cohen is no lightweight with prose either. Creative, strong, writing made the book a pleasure to read.
A sexual sub-plot goes to the edge of R-rated but doesn't quite get there. A smattering of F-Bombs are realistic in their usage rather than thrown in for lack of creativity. Unless you are offended by the above, I recommend this novel as a gratifying way to spend a few hours.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer