‘Inside’ by Alix Ohlin

InsidestarstarWhen I started reading this book, I thought I was going to love it. But after a fantastic, engaging start the book descends into a mediocre group of stories which jump around confusingly. The characters were bland and forgettable. Normally I don’t mind a number of different story lines progressing together, as long as they contribute in the end to a satisfying cohesive whole. Even though ‘Inside’ was a Giller finalist and had a number of glowing reviews, it just didn’t work for me.

The book is about a therapist who, while cross country skiing in Montreal,  stumbles across a failed suicide attempt in the woods. The themes are about lives intersecting and about how people try to help each other which is a good idea, but Ohlin’s writing was just too cliché to pull it off. William Giraldi in the New York Times says, “When self-pity colludes with self-loathing and solipsism backfires into idealism, the only outcome is insufferable schmaltz.” I really tried to like this book, but I’m afraid I have to agree with this reviewer.

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