Odd One Out is a book about questioning your sexuality, friendships, and growing.
Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.
Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .
No easy answers.
Odd One Out is messy and complicated. And in this way, it feels real. Our characters make genuine mistakes, calculated errors, and manipulating moves. At the same time, they struggle with the idea of labels, the intricacies of love, and figuring out their sexuality. What happens when we start trying to live for ourselves? When we cast aside all of the expectations and ideas we had?
I listened to Odd One Out on audiobook and I highly recommend this. There are three different narrators for the three different perspectives, and it really lends an authentic feel to the story. We can hear the inflections in their voice. While I advocate for audiobooks in general, because I find them incredibly helpful and wonderful to listen to, this one in particular was superb.
One of my favorite part of Odd One Out was the friendship. I know what it feels like to be part of a larger group. And Odd One Out nails this complicated and messy relationship. The way you have inside jokes with the group and how you nourish friendships outside of the larger group.
Love & Questioning Rep
Another part of the book that really resonated with me is the questioning rep. I think sexuality is one of those identities that is extremely fluid. Which changes throughout our entire life. We might think we are ace and then one person can result in being grey ace. It’s just one of those identities that is dynamic and fluid. If you choose to find solace in labels, then the process of constantly re-interpreting these labels is incredibly challenging.
Not to mention all the baggage associated with these labels in society, in our upbringing, in our friend circles, and more. It’s exhausting, challenging, and always confusing. There are always moments of denial, of grief, of happiness, and processing. It’s one of those processes that goes through a myriad of feelings and emotions.
Rae and Jupiter both struggle with this process. The fluidity of their labels and coming to terms with their feelings. It is a messy complicated process. And some people get really hurt in the process. We act in ways that are emotionally manipulative, confusing, and unfair to those around us. But this part of the journey felt incredibly real to me. I have gone through really intense and exhausting moments of questioning, in which I felt, at times, relieved to have a label to take refuge in, but also frustrated when I couldn’t get it quite right.
I wanted to address the bi-erasure in the book. This is an issue I’ve seen in many other reviews and one that I was aware of before reading. While I had heard about it, I didn’t realize the depth until about 2/3 through. And when I realized, my jaw kind of dropped. I think what is the most potentially harmful is that one of the characters really adamantly, maybe out of denial, the possibility of a bisexual identity. One of the main characters is set in her identity as a lesbian and denies her feelings for her male best friend – without talking about the possibility of being bisexual until very late in the book. I think if these feelings hadn’t gone so deeply “being a lesbian and therefore not interested in her best friend”, or been literally yelled in my ear, then it wouldn’t have been so shocking.
I think this has the potential to be harmful and hurtful, especially considering how important the nature of fluid sexuality is throughout the book. And the rest of the book is incredibly feminist and aware throughout. Almost how I’d imagine some teens are growing up now. Whereas when I was growing up there were no labels, no open talks, and things were more confusing for me.
So given all these circumstances, it is shocking. And I wanted to talk about it here so you were as aware as I was going in.
Odd One Out
I love titles that just perfectly summarize parts of the book. Throughout Odd One Out, each of these characters have moments where they feel like the odd one out. Whether it be when you feel like the third wheel of a friendship, or biracial, or knowing that your opinions and views single you out – we all have these sore spots. Just like how I feel about being adopted. This quiet, silent, and invisible part of my identity that changes almost every other piece of myself: home, my physical appearance, my family.
I think growing up, Rae would have been the character I identify more with. Afraid of letting people down and always putting on a happy face, Rae is the character of my high school. I wish I had read Odd One Out as a teen, because I think her journey would have resonated deeply with me. Even if the labels didn’t line up. Feeling like the minority growing up, and not being able to have anyone to talk to, always feeling like people would leave.
Whereas now, I identified more with Jupiter and her struggles to navigate her feelings and identity. Jupiter’s spunk, feminism, and fire is who I wish I could have been more like in high school. Which is why I identify more with her now.
For me, Odd One Out is a book that provided me with questioning rep. It’s a book I resonated with because it affirmed something I forget often, is that it’s okay to navigate, challenge, and alter our own identities. Also I adore seeing all those people of color on the cover. Odd One Out is a book that pokes at the vulnerable spots, shows you the messy knots, and confronts our fears. It’s a book about when we can’t tell people the truth, confront ourselves at the most vulnerable spot , and when we won’t even admit the truth to ourselves.