Another LaineyGossip reccomendation, Sadie Jones’s The Outcast is an understated, beautifully dramatic novel. Lewis, the protagonist, slowly unravels after the death of his mother to the disappointment of his traditional, suburban town. As Lewis withdraws, struggling in silence, his friends, family and neighborhood simply cannot process his pain. Lewis’s behavior fails to comply with acceptable social norms; he’s not quite cheerful enough, he fails to respond to questions, his temper quickens. Everyone around him tries to force him to keep up appearances, to comply with the unstated social contracts that govern his small town, and Lewis eventually breaks, landing himself in prison.
The characters are all heartbreaking in their own way. Lewis’s father, a model of “traditional” fathering, who tries to instill strenght and distance in his son and expunge any traces of emotion from their lives. Lewis’s stepmother, who retreats into alcoholism like his biological mother before her. Kit, the young neighbor, broken by her father who is the only one who might understand Lewis’s pain. Tasmin, Kit’s older sister who uses her charms like a weapon, trying to manipulate those around her.