Lynn is a thirteen-year-old with the usual preoccupations — choir practice, school, and shopping for the perfect jeans with her friends. To say nothing of dealing with her free-spirited mother’s flaky self-absorption. But one day while waiting at a bus stop, her life is saved by a mysterious girl named Blossom, who introduces Lynn to her own world and family — both of which seem far more bizarre, yet somehow far more sane, than Lynn’s.
Blossom’s family is small band of outcasts and eccentrics who secretly live in an ingenious bunker beneath a reservoir. The Underlanders forage and trade for the things they need (“Is it useful or lovely?”), living off what “Citizens” throw away. Lynn is enchanted and amazed. But when she inadvertently reveals their secret, she is forced to take measure of her own motives and lifestyle, as she figures out what it really means to be a family, and a friend.
Where did this book come from?
Outside In was the result of questions I’ve been thinking about for a long time. How do some children with tough lives survive and flourish? What’s a good family? What’s a good friend? How do we learn what we need to know for life? Why do humans persist in making art? What’s the solution to homelessness? What are we going to do with all the garbage we’re creating? What’s behind that metal door near the reservoir where I take my daily walk?
What do readers think?
-Booklist (a starred review)
Appealing and provocative, this challenges readers to assess their own lives, bringing up compelling issues as wide-ranging as the ills of consumerism and the obligations of friendship.
More than a thoughtful ode to found family, this slim, sweet novel challenges readers to look anew at the ones they have.
-Kirkus (a starred review)
A wonderful, unique story about love and beauty.
-The Globe and Mail
Sarah Ellis has a perfect ear for youngster dialogue and for contemporary culture. You relate to her characters so deeply.
-“The Next Chapter.” CBC Radio