The Outcast – Sadie Jones

I have been digging around some of my past reviews from before I started this blog and I have been resurrecting them for one reason or another. The main reason for mentioning this book again is because in the last couple of weeks a television adaption of the book has been on the BBC. 

Interestingly it was strictly controlled script wise by the author itself which is probably why I found it compelling but for me it all started with the book…..

It is difficult to know where to start when it comes to describing this book.

The story is set over a roughly ten year period and involves Lewis Aldridge who in the prologue is seen coming home after a spell in prison, we don’t know why he has been there or what circumstances drove him to commit a crime but this just merely sets the scene for the next three parts of the book, as we discover why Lewis has been incarcerated and trapped not just in prison but in his short life.

Lewis background is filled in and we gradually come to know and meet all the characters. Gilbert Lewis’ oppressive father who seems to think that by not talking about events means you will not have to deal with them. Elizabeth, the mother of Lewis, who hides in alcohol and who adores him and spoils him up until the day she tragically loses her life. Lewis grief sets off changes, event after event which affects everyone. Alice, the stepmother who is not stereotypical stepmother; evil, but weak in many ways, and I felt less empathy for this character, who made me want to scream, there is so much she could have done to help Lewis and stop things spiralling but she hid in her room, in alcohol and behind her new husband.

The Carmichaels are the major neighbouring family who the Aldridge’s socialise within their stuffy manner of class and system in the 1950s. Their youngest daughter Kit, is the other trapped character within this book, who is trying to escape the fact that she has fallen in love with the local bad boy `Lewis’ but also her violent father, Dicky who seems to have control over everyone, either by force and brutality or what and whom he knows. Justice will prevail in the end for the reader, and a relief it was.

Lewis is a rather lost soul, after his mother has died and his actions are always referred back to the tragic event. He is trapped within the constraints of his mind, never discussing what has happened and uses self harm to release the pain. Trapped in prison, trapped amongst his father’s regime and the neighbours as they expect a certain sort of behaviour, trapped by a local girl for fun to name but a few.

This book beautifully deals with some fairly brutal issues and places them into a society which is somewhat different to nowadays. The descriptions of the violence are somewhat shocking but this is only to emphasise the problems that these people have to deal. I really felt quite claustrophobic while reading the whole book and felt just as trapped as Lewis and Kit did.

There is not an Epilogue to this story, you do not know what happens after these major events, you just hope that justice prevails and those who live to be loved remain so and can find peace in their own minds.

Do not let any of this put you off the book it is a fantastic story which keeps you on the edge of your seat from page one right until the end. A great debut novel.