Author: Tammy Ferebee
Type of Book: Softcover
Genre: Young Adult
Length: 332 pages
Publication Date: September 21, 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
~ I received an autographed first edition copy of OUTSIDERS from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Jaylen Hayes may be a seventeen year old girl, but she has always known that she is somehow different from other girls her age.
Being super-smart certainly doesn’t help her feel like a typical teenager. Throw in the fact that Jaylen never gets sick, wild animals seem to hate her and the fact that she has an unknown medical condition which requires her to have access to drinking water at all times and readers can easily understand why Jaylen feels like she doesn’t fit in.
Forced to relocate and change schools in the middle of her senior year, Jaylen starts at a private Catholic school that is vastly different from any school she has ever attended.
She has never emotionally connected with any of her peers, so she is understandably shocked when she meets not one, but two people she feels instantly drawn to.
As the story progresses the reader learns more about Jaylen and is also introduced to Michael and Indigo.
I do not want to give away the story but I will say that Jaylen does finally discover exactly why she has always felt like an outsider. She also figures out the reason that she felt so instantly comfortable around Michael and Indigo.
Even though this book is a tale of Jaylen’s search for self-identity, it is also so much more.
I did not mention in my synopsis that Jaylen is black (or African American if you prefer the politically correct term). Michael is a mixture – he has a black mother and a white (Caucasian) father and Indigo is Latino. This mixture of races is actually more realistic than when you read a novel where all the characters are one race. The world today is a “melting pot” of colours, races and cultures and it is unfortunate that more books do not reflect the wonderful diversity of our current society.
Chapter One begins with Jaylen describing her beliefs. She states: “I’ve never been religious. Never picked up the Bible to read a scripture. Never even prayed.” This actually surprised me. It is rare that an author so blatantly admits that a novel’s main character is an atheist. I think Tammy Ferebee is very brave. Religion seems to be a subject that most authors (especially Young Adult authors) shy away from. However, I understand why religion in fiction is generally avoided. In my opinion this avoidance stems from fear and/or from an eye towards mass commercial appeal. Why do I say that? Well, if you are an extremely religious person and while looking for a book to buy, you pick up a book that starts out the way this one does, you may never read past that first paragraph. I believe that most publishers would have asked Tammy Ferebee to exclude information about Jaylen’s beliefs before agreeing to publish “Outsiders”. I think they would be concerned that they could lose potential sales by having this information included. That is why I say that I believe Tammy Ferebee is brave. In fact, I actually admire her for the fact that she chose story purity over commercial profitability. Good for her.
Still on the topic of religion in “Outsiders” the novel, I think that it is important to include this topic in Young Adult fiction because most young adult fiction readers are not often exposed to religious ideologies other than their own family beliefs. I was trying to think back over all the YA books I have read and I cannot think of a single one in which the main character was a professed atheist. Kudos again to the author for incorporating this topic into her writing.
Are you interested in learning what the author has to say about why she chose an atheist as her protagonist? If so, watch this YouTube video: http://youtu.be/-GVze6Nz_cM
Fiction is a vehicle for young adults to attempt to relate to the characters and to escape their own lives for a while. It is also a vehicle for them to learn about the lives of others. In addition, it is a safe and secure way to learn about topics that may interest them, but that they do not feel comfortable discussing with others.
Jaylen has moved from New Jersey to Virginia. The school she had previously attended was a large public high school and her new school is a private Catholic school. She has never been exposed to a school setting where the majority of the teachers are nuns and the Lord’s Prayer is recited every morning. Imagine how different and out-of-place she must feel. How does an atheist fit in at a Catholic school? I think just about every person can relate to the feeling of being out of their element, especially young adults.
Another aspect of this book that I was thrilled with was the socioeconomic aspects of the story. Unfortunately, several of the YA books I have read that feature black leading characters have also included the typical, fictional black stereotype of low income being the norm. This is not the case in reality and it is nice to read about a black girl who comes from a high income background and whose challenges do not have anything to do with poverty, drugs or gangs. Again, I give kudos to Tammy Ferebee for not falling into the trap of writing two dimensional and stereotypical characters.
In the Young Adult genre I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ For the reasons I have listed above as well as for pure enjoyment and escapism, I highly recommend OUTSIDERS to anyone who enjoys Young Adult fiction with great characters, lots of twists and turns with a science fiction flair.
The ending of this book leaves an opening for the story to continue in a second book. I will definitely be on the lookout for it and will be adding it to my “To Read” list.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tammy Ferebee is a dedicated and loving mother of two. How do I know this? Well, I know this because of what she chose to write on the dedication page of “Outsiders.”
“To My Kayla and Kaden: Without you two, I could’ve written and published this book three years ago. But without you two, life wouldn’t be worth living. You two are my everything. I know I am blessed because I get to see my heart on the outside of my body every day.”
Tammy Ferebee lives and writes in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a Grad student who enjoys eating unhealthy amounts of chocolate, and can sometimes be found binge-watching “The Golden Girls.”
To learn about this talented author visit her webpage at http://www.tammyferebee.com
Follow her on Twitter: @TammyFerebee
Check out her Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/Tammy-Ferebee
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