The first thing that captured my attention with this book was the cover. It’s really pretty – especially the rainbow colored boards that the three kids are sitting on. It’s also nifty how the characters on the cover look almost exactly like the characters are described in the book – that never happens, so I thought that was pretty neat, and wanted to point that out.
Anyway, when I read the synopsis for this book, I did find myself going “Huh?” and reading it a few times until I finally got what it was about – a girl who tells a pretty big lie to help get the same-sex date ban on the dances at her school lifted. See, this is one of those cases where there is just way too much going on in a book (like side-plots) to all fit into one neat little paragraph on a book jacket. The Inside of Out is full of love, friendship, and doing the right thing.
The book starts off with Daisy, our main character, going through college brochures with her best friend Hannah. They have been best friends for years, and they always tell each other everything. When Hannah comes out to Daisy that afternoon, Daisy is perfectly accepting and happy that Hannah trusted her enough to be open with her. She even tries to get Hannah to join the LBGTQIA alliance at their school when they are looking for clubs to join. Deciding to join it to support her friend, when Hannah doesn’t show up for the meeting, Daisy is confused and a little hurt.
She is even more hurt when Hannah introduces Daisy to her new girlfriend – Natalie Beck.
Daisy and Natalie used to be very good friends, but a random falling out when they were small caused a whole bunch of grief for Daisy for the rest of her school days – being ridiculed for stuttering, and even being called “Crazy Daisy.” Natalie got some new friends, and Daisy was alone. Until she met Hannah. However, Natalie never talked much to Daisy after that, and when she did, it was usually a snarky remark or something similar. So when Hannah starts dating Natalie, Daisy isn’t very pleased. But since Daisy loves her best friend, she tries her hardest – even going so far as to attend a school board meeting to attempt to get them to allow same-sex couples to attend the homecoming dance and prom.
When that fails, and the school board decides to cancel the homecoming dance altogether instead of just allowing same-sex dates to attend, Daisy declares that it doesn’t matter, because the LBGTQIA alliance will be hosting their own homecoming – and EVERYONE is invited!
As Daisy and the alliance tries to figure out how they are going to pull this off – they run into a lot of twists – one including Natalie’s mother being on the school board, and the main reason that the dance was canceled to start with. As Daisy goes from being pretty much unknown to an internet sensation (all over the country) almost overnight, she faces a lot of difficult decisions – such as lying and saying that she is gay so that she can continue to be a great spokesperson for the alliance and get this project to take off.
The characters in this book are so full of personality and make the book such a great read. We get to know a lot of characters – Daisy, Hannah, Natalie, Natalie’s ex-boyfriend Chris (or QB as everyone calls him), all the members of the LBGTQIA alliance, and Adam – the reporter who works with Daisy. While you have to wonder a lot if things are going to happen between Daisy and Adam, it’s so nice that there isn’t any insta-love in this book. At first I thought that there might be, but nope, there isn’t, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
While Daisy’s character is a bit self-centered at times, she’s clearly taking charge to stand up for her best friend’s rights, and that’s admirable. Hannah, on the other hand, seems focused on Natalie and Natalie alone, and sometimes it seemed like she thought Daisy was beneath her now. It was a bit irritating, but both characters undergo a lot of development from the beginning of this book to the end, and they really do change as people as they begin to realize what’s really important.
There is even a lot of involvement of the parents of the high school kids in this book, which is refreshing. I really loved Daisy’s parents – they were warm and welcoming, and such great parents to her.
Also, this book is a bit long compared to a lot of other YA contemporary novels I’ve read lately, and at first I assumed that it was probably going to be a bit slow as far as pacing goes, but I was wrong – the pacing was kind of perfect and made sense…and I honestly didn’t come across a single boring part of this book. I enjoyed it from the first page through the last (and I was kind of sad when it was over).
In fact, while there is romance (and a few different couples) in this book, it definitely takes the backseat, because that just isn’t the main theme of it. Instead, we have some self-discovery, the importance of friendship, and the reminder to always do what’s right and stand up for what you believe in.
The Inside of Out is a powerful novel that I really feel I have to recommend to everyone, no matter your gender or sexual orientation, because it delivers a strong message that definitely should not be missed!