Outside Wonderland by Lorna J. Cook

Lorna J. Cook  Outside WonderlandOutside Wonderland by Lorna J. Cook
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan
Review copy provided by the publisher

When Alice, Griffin, and Dinah were children, their mother and father died, in separate but equally tragic ways. Raised by their grandmother and leaning on one another for support throughout their childhoods, they were unaware of the fact that their loving parents have always watched them from above. Alice, the oldest, is a stage actress in New York who has difficulty committing to an adult relationship. Middle child Griffin is in love with his longtime partner Theo, but when Theo becomes determined to adopt a child despite Griffin’s hesitation, the cracks in their relationship begin to turn into canyons between the two of them. Baby of the family Dinah makes one mistake and finds herself single and pregnant, heartbroken by the father of the baby’s decision to marry someone else. The three of them cling to one another throughout these trials and tribulations as their parents watch from the outside, unable to help but proud of the adults their children have become.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book. At first, it seemed a bit strange, the parents watching these three kids from above, and the conversations between their parents about the kids (while there are only a few of these) felt awkward and unnatural. But soon enough, I got into the rhythm of the book and really started to enjoy spending time with these characters. And I loved the sibling dynamics between the three of them.

I ended up liking all three of these characters, but the one I think I most connected to was Dinah. I just felt for her the most – her story was the most desperate, her situation the most difficult for me personally to imagine going through. Surprisingly, I really connected to Theo, Griffin’s partner, as I felt that he was truly such a good guy with only the best of intentions. It was difficult for me to sympathize with Griffin, as I felt he was more selfish and not willing to open up and deal with the issues between him and Theo. I liked Alice but nothing really connected me to her emotionally – she was important to the story, but to me personally not so much.

The end of this one is kind of … cliché? I don’t know the word for it. Coincidental maybe? It was feel-good, which I liked, but not altogether realistic.

Outside Wonderland was definitely an enjoyable read, but I can’t help feeling that it might be a bit forgettable. I liked it but it won’t ever be a favorite for me. Recommended.

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6 thoughts on “Outside Wonderland by Lorna J. Cook

  1. Well, I guess the author was going for the unique angle by having the parents observe and comment on the kids (a la Lovely Bones?) but there has to be more to it. I guess it is a nice filler, but who has time for that?

    • Yeah that’s exactly what it was, sort of filler. If the author had just written a story about these three siblings, making it clear that they were deeply affected by losing their parents when they were young, it might have been better.

  2. I can guess the way this turns out, but that still doesn’t deter me from wanting to check it out. I think the parents in heaven angle sounds a bit strange, but it might be something that I enjoy, as I have often speculated on that. It sounds like although this one was not a favorite, that there was merit in a lot of the characterizations and plot. I enjoyed your refreshing review. I love it when someone reviews a book with honesty and candor.

    • The ending was actually a surprise, which might make you more interested to read it, Heather! I did like the characters as I said but some things about the book overall were just a bit strange.

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