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3.46  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,965 Ratings  ·  374 Reviews
“A skillful storyteller . . . attractively quick-witted and wry.” —J. M. Coetzee
“Ohlin has a great eye, a great ear, and all the other equipment auguring a very successful future.”—Jay McInerney
“Expect to hear her spoken of in the same reverent breath as Lorrie Moore and Joy Williams.” —Heidi Julavits

From the highly acclaimed author of The Missing Person and Babylon and Ot
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Vintage (first published 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 22, 2013 Carolyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Don't bother.
I pretty much bought this book for its cover. Dumb move.
I was intrigued at first, but in the end I won't remember what this was about for long. This author is too young for me. Trite. Contrived prose written in the third person TELLING about all these people with superficial concerns whose lives intertwine - kinda - therapists (of course), people who go to the North and Africa to work so they can get hit with tragedies that are ultimately all about them, people who get pregnant, div
Leigh Newman
Feb 06, 2013 Leigh Newman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can any of us really save another person? Or is each of us solely responsible for his or her own life? That's the question lurking behind Alix Ohlin's astute novel, which follows three separate characters: Grace, a therapist who's consulting with a disturbed teenage girl; Mitch, also a therapist, who moves all the way to the Arctic trying to rescue a young Inuit who's lost his whole family; and Anne, a struggling actress, who lets a pregnant runaway move into her apartment—and take over. Ohlin i ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Doreen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This book has been shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

There are three interconnected story strands: that of Grace, a well-meaning but rather inept therapist in Montreal; that of Annie, a young client of Grace’s who yearns to be an actress; and that of Mitch, Grace’s ex-husband who is also a therapist. There is not a linear plot: chapters move among the various characters and cover about a decade, although not chronologically.

I had difficulty keeping trac
Jun 23, 2012 Christie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
I really wanted to give this 3 stars, but it kept getting less and less interesting. And then, coming to the end, I all I could think was, "that's it?"
Steven Langdon
Oct 17, 2012 Steven Langdon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: super
"Inside" is another of four novels nominated for Canada's major fiction award, the 2012 Giller Prize. "419" which I reviewed recently is very much a plot-driven book, while "Ru" which I have also reviewed is a memoir in novel form that is almost a lyrical poem in its magnificent language and interwoven, layered style. In contrast to both these books, "Inside" is much more driven by the depth and self-analysis of its characters. There is perhaps an over-arching theme -- best stated in a perspecti ...more
Sep 04, 2013 Arlene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first three chapters of Inside read like self-contained short stories. Each chapter features characters and settings with no apparent connection to those in the others. By chapter three, I asked myself, "Did I pick up a short story collection here?" and I checked the cover to confirm that Inside is a novel. Indeed, it is, but we don' start to see the connections until chapter four. Ohlin takes a risk with this approach; readers disconnect if not fed well enough, soon enough.

I hung in there t
May 03, 2015 Debra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I groaned when my book club chose to read this. The description on the dust jacket made the book sound trite and banal. But the dust jacket also featured a number of quotes from glowing reviews, so I thought maybe it's not so bad after all. Having now forced myself to get through it, I can report that it's worse than I'd imagined.

It's essentially a composite story filled with predictable cardboard characters with soap operatic dramas: the lonely only child who just wants to fix everyone else; th
Steven Buechler
Nov 22, 2012 Steven Buechler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is exactly why literature exceeds all forms of culture and communications as a means of dealing with the human condition. Ohlin takes a idealized element of our society - therapists - shows us not only the complex individuals that they are, but also the people they have tried to heal once they have left their care. And not always with a 'happy ending.'

Page 254:
In the nights to come Mitch lost the ability to sleep. He watched old movies in the middle of the night, spent hours with the W
Everyday eBook
Sep 20, 2012 Everyday eBook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Everyday by: Kristin Fritz
There is no easing into Alix Ohlin’s latest novel, Inside. In one chilling, breathless moment, Grace comes upon an unconscious man off the side of the trail down which she’s skiing on a mountain in Montreal. A fallen skier? An unplanned detour? Unexpected injury? No, it’s none of these. It becomes apparent quite quickly that John “Tug” Tugwell has just attempted suicide, and Grace is the first to come across the scene. Saving a man’s life, however, is not enough when you’re a therapist. Grace is ...more
Mike Bull
Feb 20, 2013 Mike Bull rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Inside because of the way this novel peels away at the layers of human feeling, motives, personal histories, backgrounds and tendencies which make up the complexity of being.

Also, I liked the structure of the novel, bouncing between locations, points in time, and characters which were gradually more and more interwoven in their interactions, and the reader's understanding of their actions and complexities, their differences, and their heartaches.

This book isn't for anyone lookin
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Aug 27, 2012 Melissa Lee-Tammeus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Okay, I wanted to like this book - it was about a therapist, so it should have been right up my alley. But I got about 1/3 into it and I just thought, "This book is not doing anything for me, why am I wasting my time waiting for this to get better?" So, I stopped. It started out well enough - therapist skiing, stumbles across a man trying to kill himself, she stops him takes him home, starts "therapizing." Then things shift to her guilt about her life and the reader loses track of the man and th ...more
I love all of Alix Ohlin’s writing—from her first collection of stories, Babylon and Other Stories, to her first novel, The Missing Person. But Inside is my favorite work of hers to date.

Inside is aptly titled given that Ohlin has a preternatural ability to penetrate her characters’ minds and hearts. This, even more than Ohlin’s gorgeous prose and carefully crafted plot, is the reason to read Inside. As Ohlin maps out the lives of her disparate characters—from an up-and-coming actress in New Yo
Carole Yeaman
I believe the beautiful, and brilliant book jacket photo shows you the whole story. A delicate, monochromatic grey reflection. A snowball, entrapping safely its bits of "cold snow". The characters are mostly reaching out to others to be of real help; or are they trying to test their own limitations. In some cases the efforts are almost certainly doomed; in others the character may not be strong enough to persist with seeing thing through to the end. They are all striving to be INSIDE their own l ...more
Jan 08, 2013 Wesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Understated yet enjoyable book with very real characters, but no strong plot.

I liked the way this book was written. I don’t remember the author going into much detail describing the characters, but I found it very easy to imagine these characters as real people to the point where halfway through the book, I re-realized that this book was fiction. Ohlin creates these characters by describing what happens to them and it’s these collective experiences that eventually comprise a complete
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Alix Ohlin’s Inside is the only novel this year to be nominated for both the ScotiaBank Giller and the Rogers Writers’ Trust fiction prizes. That’s quite an accomplishment for a book that was so viciously slammed by William Giraldi in The New York Times Sunday Book Review:

Ohlin’s language betrays an appalling lack of register — language that limps onto the page proudly indifferent to pitch or vigor. Mitch’s “heart sang” and then Mitch’s “heart sank”; poor Mitch “felt his heart cracking like ice
"Let me out!" (response to the book "Inside").
The novel is arranged into chapters focusing on several different characters in different years; it hops back and forth between years and character viewpoints. I like that style, for it promises various insights that sometimes are dependently available only with the distance of time and other events.
Two of the characters are therapists, and the others are intricately enveloped by a therapy fog that feels like a displaced novel of the 70s. When the re
I wanted to like this book. I picked it up because I had read an excerpt from the first chapter and it was intriguing. I tried to ignore the signs--the signs that the writing was just not all that good, and the characters were not satisfying, and the interwoven stories structure was not going well. But by the third or fourth chapter, I couldn't deny my misgivings any more. I think it was the line, "With her thick-framed glasses and disapproving look, she resembled a librarian more than the lawye ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Erica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erica by: Kobo
I can't quite get myself to liking this book. I think it was just Ohlin's writing style in this that didn't grab me. I found the prose to be a little lack-lustre for my personal taste. But the characters are complex and their relationships are intelligently portrayed. I just didn't have an emotional attachment to any of them. Is there a "Montreal-style" of writing? I feel like authors from Montreal often portray the same mood in their novels. Upon completion of Ohlin's book I feel the same as I ...more
Dec 05, 2012 Nina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lost-interest
I hated this book. I hated the characters who were crazy, even the psychologists were nuts. Each and every character were flat with no growth or maturity. The only thing that I got out of it was that thank god I never majored in psychology. There was no happy ending for anyone. There was no positive outcome to anyone's story. Tug's back story was so detached from the rest of the story line. The chronology was terrible, random. I had to start skipping many pages because it was too damn depressing ...more
Intricately woven stories that touch each other and see the character's struggles/thoughts (inside) and see where they journey along in life and how they manage their triumphs and challenges. Enjoyed the character's development in each of the storylines.
I started off not liking the book, but eventually I did find it hard to put down. I was pulled in, and it ending up being a fairly good book.

The story has a cast of some deeply flawed and damaged characters, it took a while to get into it, but some of their lives and how they got to where they were, was interesting to me. Captivating even, as they author brings to the surface some of the harsh realities the characters have faced, and how they choose to handle the decisions they made. This is a
Alix Ohlin's Inside has a lot of characteristics that I typically do not like in a book: her characters are both contrived and clichés, two of them being therapists out to help everyone they meet with their problems, another two being troubled teenagers, and another being a man damaged by the horrors he faced doing international aid work. Yikes, right? This book is so full of self-flagellation I wasn't sure I had the stomach for it.
In the end though I finished it having been a tiny smidge won ov
I have a very ambivalent feeling about this book. I like the way it is written and still this isn't my type of book. The style is good, but in the beginning it's difficult to get involved and feel comfortable with the characters in the story.
The Dutch title is Help where the English title is Inside which in my opinion covers the plot better.
All the characters in the book are involved with the lives of other people which they want to help. The result of all this altruism is that the characters
Sep 24, 2015 Dove rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another okay okay read. It started off compelling and so interesting with the four perspectives and stories that were so unique and awesome... But then it went downhill. The author wasn't able to uphold the same mystery and interest the readers had with these 4 novels and the stories just ended up getting monotone and bland. I didn't like it very much and I skimmed the end because it was so boring at the end. Anyways, I signed out 2 new books today I hope I can add more 5 star ratings to my good ...more
Nov 08, 2012 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is really fine, and the characters are interesting, but I'm not sure that the idea of a story that loosely connects through various kinds of meetings really worked in this. It felt a bit like the author identified with the main character of the psychologist/therapist - a bit distant, overarching, curious but not too involved and in the end, not someone I related much to. None of this is a problem except the hype around the book, a finalist in the Booker awards, leads you to believe t ...more
I found this to be well written overall. I read and read, and kept asking myself...where's this going? This will all make sense soon. These characters and there stories will link up right? Um....not so much. When it ended, I looked up to my husband who was sitting beside me and said "That's it? That's the end?" I just didn't get it. The ending, the middle...none of it. There were some good chapters that I felt could have each been a short story. There were some funny lines (when one of the chara ...more
Jakey Gee
Oct 08, 2012 Jakey Gee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this one from the 2012 Canadian Giller Prize shortlist - and it’s a belter.

It’s a smart, convincing, time-lapsing tale of family and relationships, as good as any Jonathan Franzen – with a small cast of very well drawn, nuanced characters held together by connections that at no point felt too ‘concept’.

At heart, it’s about the vain efforts we make to help and understand the unknown that is the other person (the ‘inside’, I guess). There’s plenty of bleakness, but it’s ultimately pretty o
Marian Szczepanski
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jaime Koebel
I think I need some time to process this book since I just finished it last night. but at first glance, I don't know if I've ever thought I could save people but I have thought that I could save ideas, relationships and the notion that I could make changes on my own. I was struck by the level of loneliness and detachment that characters in the book live in. I think that exists all around us - at times individuals pop in and out of detachment, some living most of their lives empty and shallow and ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Alexis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Absolutely loved this book. It was nominated for both the Writers Trust award and the Giller, but didn't win either, which is a shame. It's a brilliant book. It's set mainly in Montreal and follows the lives of four characters, and dips back and forth in time from 1994 to 2006. The stories are mainly about broken people who are striving for connection with others, trying to get over their own loneliness. This is a book about human relationships and the need for connection. The writing is beautif ...more
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Runaways 2 11 Jun 12, 2013 11:53AM  
Ask Kim Barnes, A...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Plot Badis 4 20 Apr 17, 2013 10:13AM  
Anne and Mitch 1 12 May 07, 2012 03:38PM  
The comfortable nations 1 9 May 07, 2012 03:37PM  
Being responsible for one's own life 1 7 May 07, 2012 03:37PM  
The truth of Tug 1 19 May 07, 2012 03:36PM  
Anne 1 6 May 07, 2012 03:31PM  
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Alix Ohlin is the author of The Missing Person, a novel; Babylon and Other Stories; and Signs and Wonders, a new collection. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best New American Voices, and on public radio’s Selected Shorts. She lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, where she teaches at Lafayette College.
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“Witnessing the pain of others is the very least you can do in this world. It's how you know that when your own turn comes, someone will be there with you.” 7 likes
“But longing was part of life here, and it made him happy to feel his lack of these things, as sharp as hunger. He was addicted to want. He didn’t know how this had happened, whether it was because of his childhood or some quirk of his personality or genes, but somehow he had become a person who needed to do without in order to appreciate what he had.” 0 likes
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