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Inside Audible – Unabridged

3.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I will let others describe the plot, and say that, quite simply, I loved this book. Maybe this is an old complaint, but I think a lot of books marketed as literature these days are word-clever, but lack emotional pitch or complexity. As Nabokov noted of Chekov, Alix Ohlin has given us a picnic basket and a wriggling puppy besides.

I guess lately I've become tired of reading about failed men and women, worn and regretful divorcees. So I was grateful that, although those character types exist in "Inside", Ohlin allows them to inhabit some qualities of that role as well as transcend it and achieve a sense of, forgive the pun, grace. Because that's what this book is about, one of the things, anyway, the recognition and acceptance of another's complete personhood, failures and wrong turns included, the only thing that sustains us in the long run.

I was so taken in with Ohlin's writing that I was sad when I realized that Grace, the eponymous protagonist, doesn't exist in the real world because I loved her character so. Then I got the sense that somewhere out there, a Grace does exist, and Ohlin has just put her on paper rather than the other way around.

My highest recommendation.
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Format: Hardcover
I love all of Alix Ohlin's writing--from her first collection of stories, Babylon and Other Stories, to her first novel, The Missing Person. But Inside is my favorite work of hers to date.

Inside is aptly titled given that Ohlin has a preternatural ability to penetrate her characters' minds and hearts. This, even more than Ohlin's gorgeous prose and carefully crafted plot, is the reason to read Inside. As Ohlin maps out the lives of her disparate characters--from an up-and-coming actress in New York and L.A. to a former relief worker in Rwanda--she makes visible the inner workings of absolute strangers. (I say strangers because as I read Inside, I began to feel that Ohlin's characters were actually real people I didn't use to know and now do.) In making visible what is dim at best in others, Ohlin offers the possibility that this kind of seeing may not be an impossible feat--and that we therefore may also see others, and be seen, with an eye not just to the specific form our troubles have taken but also to our kinship.

When reading Inside, I was reminded of D.H. Lawrence's "Odour of Chrysanthemums," in which a woman, when presented with her husband's corpse, confronts the reality that she never really knew him--the implication being that we can never really know another. 'Was this what it all meant - utter, intact separateness, obscured by heat of living? In dread, she turned her face away." Inside is so beautiful because Ohlin doesn't turn away.
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Format: Hardcover
What are our intentions? What do we hope we are doing for others? What comes of our good intentions?

Alix Ohlin's novel is an extraordinary work written about one of the great human instincts, to help another human being. And it is written about the failures caregivers must experience, the strange, dark corner within us all that causes us to injure those who care for us best. It is a novel about emotional betrayal, insensitivity, and the courage of those who continue to care for others despite the damage done to them. And, in the midst of this, it is a novel about hope.

The story is told in a broken-time sequence that is expertly woven between four characters. Annie is a self-lacerating, ferociously self-involved adolescent who finds herself grown up to be an actress in New York caring for a young, pregnant runaway who is detestably self-involved as Annie ever had been. Grace, Annie's former therapist, finds her faith in herself destroyed by Annie, Annie's parents, and the third character, Tug. Tug is a perfectly rendered victim of the massive failure of caregiving experienced by those who must try to help the victims of genocide. Finally, Mitch, the husband Annie rejected, is rejected again and again by those who `employ' him to provide care for their children and themselves.

These intertwined lives are suffused with failure in their attempts to care for and love others. Yet the wisdom and depth of Ohlin's novel is achieved through a fundamental truth that seems completely evident to the reader, yet just beyond the reach of the characters themselves. That truth? Personal commitment and sacrifice can be their own reward.

But do we really believe this? Ohlin tests our belief in human goodness at every corner.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I was immediately drawn into the story: Grace, a female therapist, finds a handsome man half buried in the snow. He has attempted to hang himself. She saves his life.

The tangle of characters that are connected to Grace weaves a nice web for the reader. It becomes one of those books that one can't seem to put down . . . even in the middle, which I found dragged a bit, one is pulled toward the end, wondering what will become of these characters. And for this reason I was thankful that the novel wasn't too long. While the characters are variegated, I found their unhappiness a bit suffocating at times.

Overall, the reader will enjoy the journey of these characters, especially Anne the actress, who was my favorite, and who, for me, really kept me reading. But I believe different personalities will relate to other characters more, and this makes for a successful book.
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