book review · shanti

The Inside of Out Review

I absolutely loved this book. I heard about it on a Bustle book list, immediately went and recommended it to the library and read it a few weeks ago. I knew I would love it, and I was right (isn’t that the best feeling?). It’s so realistic about privilege and friendship and high school. I loved the character of Daisy and her development, the focus on friendship and family relationships, and the development of the central conflict (and a lot of other things, but I’m focussing on these ones).

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When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is so ready to let her ally flag fly that even a second, way more blindsiding confession can’t derail her smiling determination to fight for gay rights.

Before you can spell LGBTQIA, Daisy’s leading the charge to end their school’s antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances—starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It’s all for the cause.

What Daisy doesn’t expect is for “the cause” to blow up—starting with Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his university paper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. #Holy #cats.

With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy’s good intentions, and Daisy’s mad attraction to Adam feeling like an inconvenient truth, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions, and her big fat mouth.

Daisy is a really appealing heroine. Like many YA readers, she is a straight, white character with a fair amount of money and lots of opportunity. Unlike many YA characters, the author was totally aware of who she was writing, and that makes it so relatable. I’m not white, but like Daisy I have a lot of opportunities compared to many of the people around me. I also don’t know nearly as much about the complexities of gender and sexuality as I would like too—like Daisy. She is very funny, and I laughed at her exploits lots of times. She grows so much in the story, especially at the end. I found her need for close female friendship, and her understanding of that really relatable. She’s very fierce, and the element of her character that likes to pick up big projects and abandon them was shown so well. I also loved her relationship with Adam (it was cute but realistic), her mother and father (I loved that all of them grew as a family) and with Hannah and Natalie (it’s so hard to know where you fit into a friendship when a big change like that happens.
I loved the relationships in this book. There is a romance—in fact, there are two romances, between Natalie and Hannah, and Adam and Daisy—and both were superbly written, and really cute, without taking too much angst. But there were lots of other important relationships in this book. First is Daisy and Hannah’s relationship. They’re more or less each other’s only friends, and that dependence makes Daisy really uncomfortable when Hannah finds another close friend in her love interest Natalie. Daisy joins the LGBTQ alliance because she want to show Hannah that she supports her—and to get attention. But she can’t help making impulsive promises, and gets in over her head. As Daisy makes more friends, I loved how her relationship with Hannah evolved. I also loved her relationships with her mum and dad. Their family is sort of separated, but they come together and it’s so sweet. I also loved Sophie, Raina, and Kyle and how they played a role. I also loved how Natalie and Daisy dealt with each other and learnt to understand each other.
The central conflict of this book, which is an alternative homecoming, has several elements. One is the role of media in promoting the story of ‘America’s Homecoming”. Another is the way that the LGBTQ Alliance is trying to actually host the thing. The third is all the friendship drama that comes from such a high profile event. This worked really well, even though the story was loooong for a contemporary. It never felt boring, and held my interest very effectively. The characters were all very believable and lifelike, which made their interactions more interesting. I’m not sure how realistic the media elements were—can stories really stay in the news that long?—but they were very effective plot devices. The way things unfolded felt just right, not with too much ease or difficulty. My one complaint is that it was quite American—I’ve sort of pieced together what Homecoming is over the years, but there was no explanation given if you come from somewhere else)
For people at all ends of the spectrum, this heartwarming, funny, real, and fabulous book is worth a read. I loved the representation (though you will probably wince at Daisy’s many faux pas’s), the characters and the story. When I was about a third into the book, I had already gone and reserved the Wrong Side of Right at the library.

What is the last book that you knew you would love, and were right? Have you heard of this one? Are you going to read it?

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8 thoughts on “The Inside of Out Review

  1. Huh, this sounds really interesting. I’d be very interested to see what members of the LGBTQIA crowd think of it, since it’s mostly about alliance, from the way you described it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! 🙂

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    1. It sort of made fun of the white straight allyship trope in a clver, funny way… but I would like to hear what LGBTQ+ people think of it. I’m glad you enjoyed reading!

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  2. I hadn’t heard of this one but it does sound fun! I confess I’m SUCH a wimp when it comes to contemporary and I hardly ever hone in when I see people talking about them…but this sounds like it twists a lot of cliches, maybe?! And I’m always up for that. 😀

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    1. Bebrave and enter the contemporary land, Cait! It does twist cliches in a clever and very self aware way… and it’s very funny in a “you are ridiculously stupid” way. you should give it a try!

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