Two girls and a guy sitting on a rainbow wall

About the Book

Title: The Inside of Out
Published: 2016
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: LGBTQ, Tami Taylor Award for Awesome Motherhood
Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Let’s Go To Homecoming…As Friends

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

Listen, props to the makers of this cover for at least making an effort. Daisy has blonde hair with blue tips, and her best friend Hannah is Vietnamese with a pixie cut. This isn’t some random stock image plucked from the archives and slapped on a book cover. That said, if you haven’t read the book, you would THINK it’s a random stock image plucked from the archives. And yeah, okay, the wall is rainbow, but why are they sitting on a wall anyway? Is the wall supposed to represent the hurdles faced by a marginalized group of people? Because if so, they should be KNOCKING IT DOWN, not sitting on it!

The Deal:

When Daisy’s BFFAE Hannah comes out to her just days before junior year begins, Daisy is determined to fight the good fight on Hannah’s behalf, even though Hannah would rather she didn’t. Daisy joins her school’s Alliance club and begins leading the charge to change the school’s outdated policies on same-sex dates at school dances. She decides to throw an alternative Homecoming dance to welcome anyone who has ever been banned from attending their own. But when an interview about her work with the Alliance goes viral, Daisy is thrown into the national spotlight as a gay, teenage spokesperson for QUILTBAG rights…even though Daisy isn’t gay.

BFF Charm: Big Sister

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Daisy, Daisy, Daisy. God bless ya. The poor girl is one bad decision after another, and I found myself repeatedly facepalming on her behalf. Daisy is a white, cisgender, heterosexual girl with two loving parents who lives in a big house in one of South Carolina’s richest cities. The girl IS privilege. And when she joins her school’s Alliance club, she doesn’t even know what privilege means. Like, literally, she has to ask. Daisy is constantly making promises she can’t keep, like that time she said she’d paint a mural for the rec center, even though she isn’t an artist. Or the time she promised the drama department she’d write an opera, even though she doesn’t play music. She has big ideas, but zero follow through, and when she begins leading the charge on throwing a Big Gay Homecoming for her school, you can’t help but cringe at how this will all end.

Daisy is awkward, immature and totally clueless, BUT the one thing that keeps me from Naying this BFF charm is that, flawed though she is, the girl has agency and spark, and I think with a little life experience, she’ll outgrow her awkwardness and become a strong, independent woman. ::snaps in a Z formation::

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Adam Cohen, the college journalist whose interview with Daisy goes viral, is the cute nerd of our collective dreams. He’s all curly hair and Clark Kent glasses and broken MacBook, and it’s kinda sorta his fault that Daisy finds herself thrown into the spotlight. He tries to keep his distance, you know, for the sake of journalistic integrity, and Daisy has to keep up a facade that she’s gay in front of the news cameras. It’s fun to read about two people who feel a pull to one other when it’s definitely 100% not a good idea, even when their chemistry isn’t of the super sizzly variety.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Is The Inside of Out an issues book? You betcha. Issues with a capital “I”. And had it been written any differently, it would’ve conveyed a pretty heavy-handed message about privilege and the straight savior narrative. But at its core, this book is a comedy, and Thorne successfully delivers a much-needed lesson in a really light-hearted way. It’s never overly preachy, even during the times when one of the Alliance club members has to take Daisy TO CHURCH about the way she acts. 

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

Pride flag being waved in a parade

I mean, duh. The members of Daisy’s Alliance group use the term QUILTBAG: queer, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans, bisexual, asexual, and gay. And many different types of people under the QUILTBAG umbrella are represented, though not all. I loved each and every member of Alliance, and Thorne made them all shining stars in their own rights, without any of them feeling like stereotypes or devices.

Bonus Factor: Tami Taylor Award for Amazing Motherhood

Friday Night Light's Tami Taylor at a football game

Daisy’s mom frequently goes above and beyond to prove to Daisy that she is 100% supportive of her, even when she’s totally confused about Daisy’s current sexual orientation. When the 24-hour news stations are all saying Daisy is gay, her mom tries to get Daisy to confide in her by letting her know that she loves her and is proud of her no matter what and also do you have something to tell me? She gets rightly frustrated when Daisy continually pushes her away, but she doesn’t let that stop her from always being there for her daughter. 

Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting

Evil Dan Scott from One Tree Hill

While I don’t want to give away too many details, let’s just say that not everyone in this book has parents that are as supportive of Daisy’s. One of the biggest opponents of the Alliance Homecoming is the parent to a closeted gay teenager, and it’s heartbreaking to see this relationship contrasted with Daisy’s.

Relationship Status: Let’s Go To Homecoming…As Friends

Book, you were cute and fun, and I would totally be your date to the Homecoming dance. We could wear ironic corsages, dance our asses off, and try to spike the punch. We’d have a fun time, because I really like you…as a friend. I mean, you get that, right? As fun as I think you are, I just couldn’t take you seriously enough to get hot and heavy. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Penguin Books. I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the lame cranberry ones) for writing this review. The Inside of Out is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.