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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.
Outside In by Doug Cooper is a unique coming-of-age story. Brad Shepherd has always followed the path where his life is ‘supposed’ to go. He is a junior high math teacher, and, following the death of a student in his class, he becomes the scapegoat and is forced out of his job. He feels responsible and feels like his life is not his own anymore. Brad relocates to the Put-in-Bay island community in Ohio, in an effort to find himself.
The story takes off right from the beginning and it felt like we were on a collision course that didn’t let go. It was really interesting to read, as this story could have gone so many different directions. I found myself wondering what I would do if I was in Brad’s situation. We are passengers in Brad’s frenzied journey toward self-discovery. It is an intense ride. Outside In by Doug Cooper shows how one man goes to extreme measures to find out who he is and what he should be doing with his life. The book manages to be funny, entertaining, heartwarming and honest all at the same time. I genuinely liked Brad and found myself thinking about his story even after I finished reading.
I liked that there is a Q&A and reader guide at the back of the book. It allows you to examine the story in more depth. You can also get more information at the author’s website.