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The Inside-Out House Paperback – 22 Sep 2014
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Mesmerizing and beautifully crafted, The Inside-Out House is an evocative story about family ghosts and secrets, and the truths we keep locked inside ourselves. Fantastic imagery and utterly believable characters combine into a page turning debut. --Shanta Everington - Author: Marilyn and Me
A house like no other, with a mystery to tell. A teenager searching for her identity and looking for answers in her life. Both are drawn together in Joanna Ezekiel s engrossing story set in the 1990s and inspired by the sculptor Rachel Whiteread s intriguing concrete cast of a Victorian house. The book explores many difficult life issues with a deft touch; growing up, moving on, teenage relationships, adults rules and racism. The key character Sam is a feisty but sensitive teenage girl, with the guts to stand up against bullies but unsure of her growing relationship with Jimi, who shares her fascination with the House. There are some colourful yet believable female characters, for example, Wendy the librarian, with her violet Mini car with its Prince and the Purple Revolution banner and the deeply political Aunty Roo. The novel moves towards a powerful conclusion, in a finely written dramatic scene that reflects the writer s poetic ability to depict the layers behind the event. This is novel that is something different, beginning with two young people s shared fascination with an inside-out house art work. This read will appeal to deep-thinking teenagers who don t want to be stereotyped and put into boxes. --Anne Krisman
A poignant coming-of-age novel, moving and beautifully told. --Helen Cadbury - Author: To Catch a Rabbit
About the Author
Joanna Ezekiel was born in Ilford, Essex. After university, she trained as a teacher and taught in the East End of London and South London, followed by a period as a children s librarian in South West London. She has also worked as a bookseller. Joanna is now a creative writing tutor for the Open University and the Open College of the Arts. She currently lives with her partner in York.
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The house of the title is clearly modelled on the (in)famous artwork of the early 1990s, "House" by Rachel Whiteread. Like that conceptual sculpture, the significance in the book of the inside-out house that Sam discovers in a local park is largely what you choose to make of it. I read it as a symbol of Sam's confused and disorientated state of mind as she grapples with a new life in a different place while simultaneously uncovering the truth about her infancy and her parents' life together. At times the story veers towards the mystical, at others it is a diatribe against prejudice - Sam's father is Jewish and the friendly boy with whom she strikes up a tentative first relationship is subject to racist bullying. But mostly it is a story about a girl finding her place in the world and discovering she is capable of making a stand for things she believes in.
Sam as any teenager would finds it hard to leave her best friend, although more than happy to leave certain others behind. She is low in confidence and is used to playing second fiddle to the other girls from her previous school, When they move to the flat near a park, Honey their upstairs neighbor, a teacher friend of her dad's, is looking after her nephew Jimi for the time being and they become good friends. The only stipulation her dad insists on is they must not go anywhere near the park, buy why, it's only a park? Why does she feel her dad and others are holding back on telling her what's really going on?
As we all know teenagers never listen and they find themselves in the park and discover the house, an art project that is hated by locals who petition for it to be removed. Memories of the past emerge from the earth of the house, what horrors and other memories will it possess? Sam and Jimi along with their video camera ignore her dad's wishes even more and continue to try and reveal the secret events of the past.
A wonderful debut story from a UK author who I've only just discovered lives fairly close to myself. Teenagers will enjoy this intriguing story, intertwined with Sam becoming aware of her true self and the best friend she thought she had left behind.
But, you have to remember that Joanne Ezekiel is a very clever and sensitive writer. Within the story she touches upon more complex matters to place the reader inside the psyche of the main character who is starting to look for the true motivations of her family and friends, to look beyond the superficial and the immediate; to consider the relationships between the past and the present, discovering what lies in the shadows of childhood memories and how this has shaped present attitudes and beliefs. Sam, the main character is starting to try to cope with half remembered trauma and the loss of her mother. In trying to find true meaning in her life and her relationships Sam starts to consider the unknowable, the true and inherent, yet difficult to encapsulate, nature of love and friendship. The things that it's hard to describe to which we assign spiritual motifs. By using half remembered memories and the magic and mystery of the "inside out house" Sam discovers what lies in the shadows of childhood memories and their impact on her present thoughts and feelings. Things that make life exquisite and mysterious and happy and sad, feelings that words cannot adequately describe. This is not Enid Blyton. As with Joanne's poetry one experiences that haunting feeling that something of life has been revealed, in this case that beautiful, but often painful transition from innocence to experience.
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