Outside In by Doug Cooper

9781626340046Put-in-Bay is an idyllic island community marooned in Lake Erie off the northern edge of Ohio.  It’s also (sort of) home to twenty-eight-year-old Brad Shepherd who, until quite recently, taught at a secondary school in St. Louis, Missouri.  But Brad’s life is thrown into upheaval when tragedy strikes his classroom, putting a premature end to what had promised to be a rewarding and fulfilling career in education.  Cut loose, without a job and without a sense of direction, he decides to meet up with some old friends.  Over the course of a single drug- and alcohol-fueled summer they help shake Brad out of his overwhelming grief and self-doubt, encouraging him to let go of “Mr. Shepherd the teacher” and just enjoy his youth.  And, while life on the island is perhaps a bit more ambiguous than he’s used to, Brad has to admit that his new, free-spirited life could turn out to be a whole lot of fun.

Outside In, the debut novel from Doug Cooper, probably isn’t what you’re expecting.  There are plenty of coming-of-age tales clogging bookstore shelves, but this one – which reads like a blend of The Catcher In the Rye and Bret Easton Ellis’s The Rules of Attraction – is less about finding yourself than it is about rediscovering yourself.  Brad’s life as a teacher was marked by monotony, early mornings, late evenings, grading papers – not to mention daily standing in front of a room full of young people who would rather be anywhere but listening to Brad speak.  Now that all of this been torn away from him, Brad is forced to reexamine how he – and others – view himself.  Is it really all that exciting being a straight-laced, well-adjusted guy?  Isn’t life supposed to have a little more spontaneity than the typical 9-to-5 work schedule will afford?  Ultimately, Outside In is the relatable tale of one man’s quarter-life crisis that will resonate with readers of all ages.

Readers can visit the book’s page on Amazon here.