Outside the Ordinary World PDF æ Outside the

Outside the Ordinary World Sylvia Sandon is at a crossroads in her life A wife and mother of two daughters she and her city planner husband grapple with the escalating renovation of their antiue farmhouse a situation that mirrors the disarray in Sylvia's life Facing a failing marriage and a famished career as an art teacher Sylvia finds herself suddenly powerless to the allure of Tai Rosen the father of her most difficult art student As their passion ignites Sylvia is forced to examine her past and the seeds of betrayal that were sown decades earlier by her mother's secret life Elouently written and deeply thought provoking Ostermiller's Outside the Ordinary World crosses many years and miles from the California brushfires in the 1970s to New England during the first half of this decade Raised Seventh Day Adventist Sylvia must reconcile the conflicting values exhibited by her parents a mother involved in an extramarital affair and a father who was emotionally distant and abusive while coming to terms with her own disturbing role in her family's dissolution and father's tragic death While infidelity is a subject often explored in fiction Ostermiller shines a razor sharp lens on the gray areas surrounding betrayal the complex interplay of religion and the powerful legacy passed down from one generation to the next At the same time she reveals the redemptive power of the human spirit to love transform and forgive despite family history

About the Author: Dori Ostermiller

Dori Ostermiller was born in Los Angeles a fifth generation Californian In her early 20's she abandoned her path as a pre med student to pursue an MFA in writing at the University of Massachusetts Since then her work has appeared in numerous literary journals including The Bellingham Review Roanoke Review Alligator Juniper Chautauua Literary Journal and the Massachusetts Review She is t

10 thoughts on “Outside the Ordinary World

  1. Dix Mccomas Dix Mccomas says:

    I read Dori Ostermiller's novel in two sittings and I am not a particularly fast reader What made it so compelling for me has to do with the way in which Ostermiller has created a narrator whose own story occurring in the new millenium begins to mirror rather against her will that of her mother thirty years prior Yes the pivotal moments in the lives of this mother and daughter do involve extramarital affairs But as the title of the novel indicates the real crucible for both women as they come to maturity in such different times has to do with the ways in which the demands of the ordinary world children husbands property and if there is time a career of sorts threatens the possibility of anything extraordinary What this book is really about is what women live on whether they can live on bread alone as it were or reuire something some manna from heaven The answer that the novel delivers is tough minded and compassionate and deeply sensitive to the many crosscurrents by which the public self can be drowned by the desperation of the personal self and vice versa I appreciate the way in which this novel challenges our sometimes easy complacency about the so called new freedoms enjoyed by women in this generation In this book the stress points in the lives of women may have been re drawn but they have never uite been eased A final note one of the delights of the book is the tactile uality with which Ostermiller creates characters The narrator's mother Elaine Sandon is one of the most vividly drawn characters I have encountered in recent fiction Ostermiller builds her molecule by molecule until she walks the pages we get every inch of her ever mole on her skin every tic in her way of talking every physical mannerism I am a teacher and in my fall fiction class at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst I will include this novel on my reading list

  2. India India says:

    Let me tell you why I love this book Have you noticed the current trend in fiction these days – I have I buy them for a living –many of the popular ones tell good stories and often than not they feature protagonists who are supernatural or canine or both They are engrossing for the length of time it takes to read them but they lack an individual persona like a preteen who relinuishes her stunning uniueness for the false safety of a peer identity “Outside the Ordinary World” is not just the title of a book it is its identity Ostermiller writes exuisitely Her prose style is as dynamic as her fire imagery; it gently flickers uietly smolders suddenly sears or can rage unpredictably Read this “I was trembling like an addict as I stumbled after him my thoughts feral and haphazard –predestination species extinction The last plagues – how many were there again? What were they called?” Ah prose with a comedic self observing ego that doesn’t take itself too seriously Well until it does From the first page “Though I’ve never been taught to believe in purgatory it must be a place like this a land where we linger mourning our nature like obstinate children whose parents warned them about the crack in the sidewalk the fissure in the glass the lethal fork in the trail” Over and over again sentences like these held me asking me to not let them go and while I could see the storyline over their shoulders –a beckoning force —I let them hold me not a difficult choice really it is what I hunger for when I read and too often find myself settling instead for meager lesses If other reviewers proclaim “I couldn’t put this book down” do not think I misled you Yes I savored sentences and often but they also afforded me some relief from a deftly contrived tension that Ostermiller sets up and fans continually the potential that devastating family secrets as safe as love letters hidden in a flimsy cardboard box could be uncovered at any moment While family secrets usually coupled with infidelity are subjects often explored in fiction what is unusual here is that Ostermiller’s characters –mothers fathers daughters lovers are psychologically complex and achingly human You won’t find any heroines or villains rather a mix of extraordinary characters that share a common trait they are flawed Characters that are drawn like moths to a flame to either repeat or rebel against the patterns that have led those their family members before them towards self destruction redemption or perhaps even worse mediocrityThis novel is outside of the ordinary It is appropriate that Sylvia is an artist For her in world just like one of her brilliant paintings what is seen is just the top layer of oils Beneath them layer upon layer lie the painstaking history of its making

  3. Jill Jill says:

    Outside the Ordinary World is a gripping page turner; a book that grabs you from the very first pages and doesn’t let go It’s a book about the legacy of betrayal and there’s not a single false or sanctimonious note to be found Have I mentioned it’s very very good?The book is divided into two narratives; the first takes place in the mid 70s when the protagonist Sylvie is only 12 years old Her mother is “perfect” the kind of mom who “wallpapered the insides of her silverware drawers” and her father is an ambitious surgeon who drinks too much and is prone to violence Into this mix steps Mr Robert her mother’s lover a man who is the epitome of everything her father is not – sensitive funny loving and full of hopes and dreamsThirty years later Sylvie will ask her mother “Did it feel like you had a choice? Or were you driven by forces beyond your control?” Her reason for the uestion is vastly personal she too is on a crossroads between her solid but emotionally absent husband Nathan and her lover Tai who symbolically is a landscape architect who build labyrinthsSylvie experiences her affair as “watching myself fall right through my life floorboards splintering” Using her lover’s language she reflects that love is not simply “working the soil and laying the foundation for growth There are boulders and tree roots storm fronts and longing someone’s decomposing old work boots There are things you forgot to harvest weeks of torrential memories” As the affair takes wing Sylvie struggles both toward and against her shared history with her mother striving to make sense of her past presentand future “Ordinary World” goes far beyond a depiction of two marriages imploding – mother’s and daughter’s It’s also about how our past comes back to haunt us how we never truly escape the choices we make and how most of the time the power to fulfill our dreams lies in our own hands not in the hands of others It’s about how easy relationships can fall apart and how hard it is to keep it together It’s about how unresolved issues come back to bite us And most of all it’s about how we need to “let go” to truly find ourselves

  4. Wendy Wendy says:

    My roommate and I were both psychology majors She was working on a paper about infidelity and she asked me if I thought I could stay with a husband how had cheated on me My answer was instantaneous Of course not No hesitation The we talked however the I began to wonder I still doubt I could stay in a relationship with someone who had broken my trust in that way but I eventually came to see that it wasn't black and white And you really never can know what you would do unless you were in that situation yourself Relationships of any kind can be complex marriage especially so The reasons for infidelity vary and some couples are able to work through whatever issues they had that brought them to that particular juncture in their lives Some aren't So while I don't condone infidelity I do on some level understand why it can happen in certain instances A breakdown of communication is often at the core There are exceptions of course There are bad people out there after all And sometimes couples do grow apartDori Ostermiller's novel Outside the Ordinary World tells the story of a family in turmoil Sylvia finds herself unhappy in her marriage and frustrated with her life She is an artist who hasn't felt inspired to paint like she once was feels neglected by her husband and overwhelmed by her motherly duties When Tai walks into her life she gives in to her longings here is someone who is interested in her listens to her and has reawakened something in her that has long been dormant Ironically she finds herself on a similar path that her mother had led many years ago despite her promise to herself that she'd be nothing like her Sylvia's own mother had an affair for years; she too unhappy in her marriage and with her life Their two stories are different however on many levels as became evident as the two stories progressed and eventually came together Sylvia's marriage with her husband was much different from that of her mother's and father's The direction their lives took was also much differentIt is easy to judge Sylvia and her mother for the choices they made Both made mistakes and many of them I found myself especially angry at Sylvia's mother Elaine because she involved her children in her affair asking them to keep Mr Robert a secret for so many years It put the girls in a very bad position pitting them against their father in a way and making them choose sidesThe novel goes back and forth between the present and the past We get a glimpse into Sylvia's childhood as Sylvia sees it as well as her current life To a degree I empathized with Sylvia What she was feeling and going through is normal How we react to such feelings is what makes the difference Sylvia chose to seek the intimacy she longed for elsewhere I don't agree with her choices and admit to clicking my tongue at her behavior and rationalization than once throughout the novel And yet I still felt for her and could see how she could make the choices she made however wrong they were And as the story progressed it became and clear that she wasn't the only one to blame for her failing marriageWhat most interested me in the novel was the impact the affairs had on the children both Sylvia and her sister and well as Sylvia's own children particularly her oldest While Elaine was obvious in her affair Sylvia tried to keep hers a secret from her children Even despite that her secretiveness and unhappiness had severe repercussions on the rest of her familyDori Ostermiller does a good job of creating characters who are flawed and very real and while I did find myself feeling bad for the husbands Sylvia's and also her own father they weren't completely innocent for their part in their crumbling marriages which is often true in situations like theirs In fact I had difficult time feeling bad for Sylvia's father at times; some of his own actions really made me angry It doesn't erase the blame and fault that falls suarely on the shoulders of the person who had the affair but it can shed light on the why of itI also really appreciated how the author brought out the complexities in situations like this that no two relationships are alike and that while couples do split up over affairs attempts and actual reconciliation can also be a goal Even in the aftermath once the secret is out however it is not easy not only for the couple but the children as well There is no happily ever after endingOutside the Ordinary World tackles a subject matter that is outside of my comfort zone as I have rather strong negative feelings about infidelity I wasn't sure how I would react to Sylvia One of the aspects I love about fiction is being able to step outside of my own ordinary world and into that of others including the lives of someone whose shoes I can't see myself walking in I've always had an interest in knowing what makes people tick why they make the decisions they do and I find that often in the fiction I read I never felt that Sylvia was a bad person nor was her mother They were lost and confused I don't like the decisions they made but when haven't we all made a mistake some bigger than others? The hope is that we can learn from them so as not to make the same mistakes again

  5. Feral Feral says:

    My friend Meredith gave me this book written by a friend of hers I have been hungry for this kind of voice in books all my life I'm out of my earlier phase of only reading women writers and I read lots of books by men again but somehow when a contemporary woman writes deeply and honestly wo any hint of aspiring to the canonical standard I don't really know how to say it anyway I read it almost in one sitting It touches gently but surely on all the tender places of families and relationships The kids are real characters The relationship between dysfunctional childhood experiences told in ways that make them seem entirely human and not pathological and corresponding issues in adult life weave in and out of the story gracefully Everyone should read this

  6. Heather Gudenkauf Heather Gudenkauf says:

    Beautifully written and uietly 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 Sylvie 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

  7. Jessica (Jess Hearts Books) Jessica (Jess Hearts Books) says:

    Dori Ostermiller’s debut novel Outside the Ordinary World has already been received with high critical acclaim in the US that along with the beautiful cover and intriguing family drama described in the synopsis had me very excited to read this one and straight from the beginning I could see what all the fuss was about Dori’s writing grips you from the start the beautiful imagery wrapping itself around you like a blanket Despite Outside the Ordinary World being a debut it’s clear that Ostermiller is already a fine storytellerThe book is told in alternate chapters flitting from present to past Both time periods are told from our main character Sylvia’s perspective in 1970 as a child and 2004 as an adult The alternate chapters each tell their own separate story of adultery In the summer of 1970 Sylvia is a witness and accomplice in her own mother’s affair carrying the burden of a secret that could destroy her family And in present day 2004 Sylvia has grown into a troubled adult haunted by her mother’s mistakes and her own guilt for her part in them now Sylvia is heading down the same illicit path of destruction despite swearing that she would never make her mother’s mistakes The alternate chapters are essential to understanding Sylvia as a person and why she makes the choices she does and whilst both Sylvia and her mother’s stories mirror one another both women have very different reasons behind their adultery Outside the Ordinary World explores the different reasons why somebody might be tempted into the arms of another and the what ifs and maybe the grass really is greener that comes along with stepping out of your day to day lifeOutside the Ordinary World is a very honest moving account on secrets family marriage and the ultimate uestion can one ever truly escape their past? Many of the characters –especially Sylvia are very raw and not always the easiest characters to like But in a strange way I could respect that and thought that it fleshed them out and made them even believable Although I didn’t necessarily agree with Sylvia’s actions I could understand her reasoning behind them and ultimately I believe that that’s what Ostermiller wanted to get across in the first place she wasn’t trying to excuse adultery but explain itThis book gives the reader plenty of food for thought and delves into the torment and destruction of infidelity holding nothing back If you’ve ever wondered how someone could so easily risk everything Outside the Ordinary World is a book that will take you through the motions A stunning debut that I would recommend to anybody who’s ever wondered what if?

  8. Ellen Ellen says:

    There are so many things I love about this novel Like Sylvia's separate but echoing stories of her childhood and her adulthood which are beautifully blended and woven together And like Ostermiller's descriptions of intense moments caught in time young Sylvie's mother curled in the patch of sunlight on the rug in the empty yellow room I think the real genius of this book is the way the author captures the complexity of family life the parallel non intersecting domestic conversations the not listening the missed cues and unanswered pleas Ultimately though this poignant and compelling novel left me with a profound sense of connection between people a hopeful and empathic portrait of family and community

  9. Lauren Lauren says:

    This is turning out to be a good choice given I just grabbed it at the library based on a review It follows a mother and daughter first in the 1970s and then in present day Both are unfaithful in their marriages but somehow the book manages to be un judgmental enough that you end up able to focus on the women their choices lives and so on without being entirely focused on 'the cheating'Just finished def worth reading The female characters are flawed and vacilate between being likeable and not the male charactors are less realistic Overall a very insightful and different take on infidelity and marital crisis

  10. ☯Lilbookworm☮ ☯Lilbookworm☮ says:

    Loved this will come back to post a in depth review

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