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On the Outside

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:18 am
by Shiloh Adlar
I recently read The Art of Secrets by James Klise for the Book Bingo prompt of "Has Multiple Points of View." The story of this book is told from the point of view of many different characters, and they each have their own idea about the things that have occurred. One theme that I picked up in this book, outside of the mystery plot line, was that of being on the outside. Saba and her family, the main focus of the story, are from Pakistan, Javier, an exchange student, is from Spain, and then there is Kendra and Kevin who are both brand new students at this very well-known high school with mostly "legendary" students. "Legendary" students are students whose parents and grandparents also went to that school.

What these four students have in common is that they are outsiders in the school. More than that, there are teachers, one who is very young and has been at the school for three years but still considered "new" and looked down on and the art teacher who is frowned upon because he likes males instead of females. In the book, one of the other characters, a "legendary" student of the school whose family has a lot of money, is asked a question about a time in his life when he was an outsider. Instead of writing about himself, he writes about these other people and their experiences.

What I'm curious to know is what books have you all read that deal with this theme of being an outsider? Often these books are written by marginalized authors, and I've read quite a few of them this past summer. Are there any that you would recommend or perhaps you relate to?

Re: On the Outside

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:15 am
by Prof. Tarma Amelia Black
I started a google search and found this:

Unifying these books is a theme of alienation, a sense of not belonging, of being an outsider --
Suzanne Collins - Hunger Games
Stephanie Meyer - Twilight
JK Rowling - Harry Potter
J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye
Joseph Heller - Catch-22
Aldous Huxley - 1984
Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre

And another reference goes to Goodreads --
Popular Alienation Books

So there is a distinct category of shelving for books like that, Shiloh. Thanks for asking! It's sort of odd that Harry Potter is listed in there, along with Hunger Games and ... Twilight. :D

Re: On the Outside

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:22 am
by Shiloh Adlar
Twilight I can easily see. Bella distinctly states that she has felt like an outsider her whole life until she meets the Cullens and enters their world. With Harry Potter, I think Harry was the outsider in his family just like Hermione was the outsider being a muggle-born in the wizarding world and the Weasley's were outsiders to some because of their love of muggles. I can't say I know too much about the Hunger Games as I'm still reading the books, but Katniss, from what I remember, becomes an outsider in a certain place after a certain event. And it's not necessarily as an outsider with people, but she's outside of the world she knew and into one that is completely different.

I'm glad they have that category. I've definitely read some of the books in it already, but I'll have to check out more of them. Thanks for posting, Tarma! :)

Re: On the Outside

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:07 pm
by Maxim Trevelyan
I think that a lot of popular Young Adult books have that “outsider” theme. I certainly related to them because I also felt like one, which I think is part of the reason why they are so popular. A lot of “outsider” kids usually turn to books to escape their world.

I agree that Katniss Everdeen certainly fits into that category, especially in Catching Fire. You can clearly see that during the Victory Tour of the Districts (more pronounced in “career” ones), but especially when she can Peeta go to the party at President Snow’s mansion and see all the food, and attitude of Capitol people. How they can overindulge when food can be scarce in District 12 and some of it is such a luxury?

No one can deny that Harry Potter fits the role of an outsider as well. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is one of my favorite books of the series and I think that it is in this one, and maybe perhaps in Chamber of Secrets that shows that even if Harry is a wizard among wizards, he is still a bit of an outsider, not only because of his fame, his ability to speak Parseltongue (in CoS), but being chosen as a younger, immature and less knowledgeable champion in Goblet of Fire. I think that this excerpt from Goblet of Fire really shows that “outsider” perspective:
Viktor Krum, Cedric Diggory, and Fleur Delacour were grouped around the fire. They looked strangely impressive, silhouetted against the flames.
Another person is Tris from Divergent series, but I think that technically that could be applied to anyone who moves from one Faction to another, but Tris is our protagonist. Even though she knows what is going on in other Factions, a little bit at least, she is still lost like some of her peers when they start their training in Dauntless, especially more so when it is revealed that she is Divergent, a person that fits into more than one Faction and strays away from the established norm.

Re: On the Outside

Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:08 am
by Shiloh Adlar
I finished a book this afternoon called The Girl Who Fell from Earth by Sofia Al-Maria. It's about a girl who is half American and half Bedouin. She struggles with figuring out who she is in the world between her two families, the one in the US and the one in Qatar. The cultures are very different and during her time at school, she struggles to find the place she belongs. Shuffling back and forth between the Middle East and the US, Sofia must discover who she is in the world.

This story easily fits into the outsider category but also that of coming of age. It is a personal memoir, non fiction, and I enjoyed reading it to learn about this culture I have heard about in college but have never studied. It also addresses many concerns and challenges that children born of two different cultures or even races might face.

Re: On the Outside

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:09 pm
by Shiloh Adlar
I finally finished a beautifully written book called Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi in which the town of Ferenwood is built on magic and vibrant colors. However, Alice, our heroine in the story, was born without color at all. Because of this, people might say that she doesn't have any magic, but this isn't true. Eventually we come to find out that Alice is able to create color from the inside and this is her magical talent that she has yet for some reason chooses not to surrender at the ceremony that takes place. Oliver, Alice's arch enemy, comes to her for help and asks her to help him with his task that he was given at his own Surrender which would allow her to find her father who had disappeared three years ago. This takes Alice into the land of Furthermore where she goes on an adventure and learns about herself and grows stronger. Alice is very much an outsider not only in Ferenwood but also in Furthermore where she does not know the rules of the land. But soon enough, Alice discovers that she really had all she ever needed already inside her. Whether she looks like everyone else or not, she learns that there are people who love her more than anything in the world and she learns that her magical talent of creating color in people's lives is extremely powerful and is what helps save her father in the end and bring her and Oliver back home.

A splendid read and somewhat of another Alice in Wonderland type feel. I really enjoyed it!