Out­side My­self

Kris­ten Wi­tucki, Wy­att-macken­zie Pub­lish­ing (MARCH) Soft­cover $15 (232pp), 978-1-942545-99-6

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews -

In Kris­ten Wi­tucki’s emo­tion­ally grip­ping novel, young Tal­lie strug­gles for self-ac­cep­tance against other peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions and be­liefs, par­tic­u­larly around her blind­ness.

Mean­while, Ben­jamin, who works in reader ser­vices at the li­brary, has be­come a soli­tary man. He lost his wife and daugh­ter while he was learn­ing to ac­cept that he was blind. When Tal­lie reaches out to her li­brary to find out if a cure for her blind­ness is pos­si­ble, Ben­jamin an­swers. He ad­vises her to ac­cept who she is and learn to be happy as a blind per­son. The two form an un­likely friend­ship, help­ing each other to re­flect and grow as in­di­vid­u­als.

The per­spec­tive changes through­out the book; some chap­ters are told through Tal­lie, oth­ers through Ben­jamin. Each phone call be­tween the two con­sti­tutes its own chap­ter, clearly mark­ing the in­ter­sec­tion of their lives. These char­ac­ters are com­pletely re­lat­able, and their unique ex­pe­ri­ences of­fer a rare, au­then­tic op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand what life with­out sight might be like.

Lush de­scrip­tions of sounds and smells are ex­traor­di­nar­ily evoca­tive. It is easy to feel how over­whelmed Tal­lie is by her new school, which is filled with the sounds of slam­ming lock­ers, chat­ter­ing chil­dren, and the smells of body odor and food. It is easy to hear the last cricket of sum­mer as Ben­jamin de­scribes it: “a creaky lit­tle chirp once in a while like he for­got how the song goes.” Mu­sic is an im­por­tant el­e­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of both char­ac­ters, and the emo­tion that they are able to hear and de­scribe in a com­po­si­tion rep­re­sents a depth of ex­pe­ri­ence that will be new to many.

Out­side My­self is a beau­ti­ful, mov­ing book about two peo­ple liv­ing with blind­ness, but it is also about lone­li­ness, friend­ship, and the im­pact that one per­son can have on the life of an­other.

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