Outside the Ordinary World is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s got everything I love in a turn-off-the-iPhone, read-in-one-sitting book: religious convictions gone awry; rich, sensual prose; a protagonist making sense of her past by opening all the same doors in her present-day life. At the heart of this book, like the elephant in the living room, sits marital infidelity, a subject that Ostermiller handles with spellbinding grace. A fascinating portrait.
– A. Manette Ansay, The Miami Herald
Partly set against the fire-shocked California coast in the 1970s, the age of “The Joy of Sex’’ and Helen Reddy songs about female empowerment, (Outside the Ordinary World) captures what it’s like to be a child caught in a sticky web of family drama…
Reminiscent of Mona Simpson and Elizabeth Strout in the way Ostermiller expertly explores family dynamics and mother-daughter bonds, the novel gives a shattering portrait of ordinary people breaking asunder and helplessly trying to glue back together.
“The world comes apart quietly with the smallest, most ordinary gesture,’’ Ostermiller writes, but it should be noted that there’s absolutely nothing ordinary about this astonishingly moving and complex novel.
–Caroline Leavitt, The Boston Globe (Click Here for full review)
When I finished Dori Ostermiller’s brilliant, expansive first novel I sat with the book on my lap for a long time. I wanted to stay in this rich, compelling world as long as I could. Ostermiller has written one of those rare books that is simultaneously gripping and deeply felt. Outside the Ordinary World will make you think, it will make you feel, it will make you want to grab those you love and hold them close.
–Alison Smith, award-winning author of Name All the Animals
The deep maturity of plot, gorgeous use of language, and deft stacking of three generations of women dealing with life-altering secrets make this book’s label of ‘debut novel’ look like an error. Certainly this has to be Dori Ostermiller’s ninth or tenth novel! I hope those – and more – will quickly follow.
–Suzanne Strempek Shea, national bestselling author of Selling the Light of Heaven, and winner of the New England Book Award.
“Dori Ostermiller captivates us with the solid and close-to-the bone voice of a 12 year old child who is pulled into a marital conspiracy of reckless and passionate abandonment. The deeply grooved betrayal of parent and religion is woven with crystalline perfection. Ostermiller takes us on a tightrope journey of childhood haunts that hide in the shadows, only to emerge without mercy in adulthood. This is a provocative novel that lingers long after the last page.”
–Jacqueline Sheehan. New York Times bestselling author ofLost & Found, Now & Then, and Truth.
Ostermiller’s lyric prose illuminates the grace and resonance present in our everyday lives. OUTSIDE THE ORDINARY WORLD brings the stories of three generations closer, weaves their meanings tighter until we realize our broken families are families nonetheless, that the distances created by time and by sorrow can be bridged.
–David Lovelace, award-winning author of SCATTERSHOT: My Bipolar Family
Outside the Ordinary World is both moving and thought-provoking–a perfect bookclub book. Ostermiller skillfully weaves past and present into one complex and haunting tapestry, demonstrating her skill as a storyteller and keen observer of human nature. Dori Ostermiller is an author to watch.
–Diane Chamberlain, Author of Breaking the Silence, and Secrets She Left Behind
Beautifully written and quietly spellbinding, Outside the Ordinary World chronicles the heartbreaking deconstruction of an American family. Dori Ostermiller skillfully melds past and present through the eyes of young Sylvia who had to bear witness to her parents’ fallibility and adult Sylvia who has to come to terms with her own choices as a wife and mother. Ostermiller’s compelling debut novel is a story of love, regret, and forgiveness that will linger with readers well after the final page is turned.
–Heather Gudenkauf. New York Times Bestselling author of The Weight of Silence
“…Ostermiller’s gift for storytelling with precision and restraint makes “Outside the Ordinary World” anything but ordinary. That it so easily crosses genres, from literary to mainstream and women’s fiction, with prose that is visceral in its beauty, makes it an astonishing debut.”
–Rita Marks, The Springfield Republican (Click Here for full review
“…While Ostermiller’s identification with the younger Sylvia is strong, her insight into the adult woman is extraordinary, as she struggles in vain against her attraction to the divorced father of one of her art students. One may not approve of Sylvia’s choices, but my goodness one feels for her.
“Lurking in the background (of this story), is the specter of child abuse. Not merely the physical violence that Sylvia’s father visited on her in his drunken rages, but the more subtle co-dependent relationship she was drawn into with both parents, which can be equally harmful in the long run. Sylvia’s mother recruited her daughters as allies, enablers, and secret-keepers in her long-running affair, playing into the unhealthy rivalry the girl was already feeling towards her father. Now Sylvia looks like repeating the mistake with her own children. Although the novel threatens to settle into a pattern in its middle section, Ostermiller keeps surprises in store, showing that it may be possible to learn something new from old errors. While avoiding facile conclusions, I found the outcome far more moving than I ever imagined…”
–Roger Brunyate, Mostly Fiction Book Reviews