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Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan

Odd Child Out

by Gilly MacMillan

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3713306,014 (3.63)3



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A special thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

MacMillan's second instalment in the Jim Clemo series is about inseparable best friends. Despite their vastly different cultures—Noah Sandler is British and Abdi Mahad a Somali refugee—their loyalty sees no boundaries. After what appears to be a prank gone wrong, Noah is found floating unconscious in a canal in Bristol, and Abdi has been shocked into silence.

Detective Jim Clemo is just back from a mandatory leave as a result of his last case. Because the investigation seems cut and dried, it is assigned to him. After tragedy strikes, it is apparent that the case it is more than just an accident. Social tensions begin to rise as the families fight for their sons and seek the truth.

Told from alternating perspectives, MacMillan's story is a slow, tense burn with a deep plot. She effectively and deftly captures how relentless the press are. This is especially relevant and relatable in today's climate—whether they print facts, fiction, or a little of both, people will believe it is spun the right way. However, there are times where the narrative was clunky which accounts for some of its unnecessary bulk.

While the premise is interesting, the characters were at times a bit too stereotypical and because of this, there are times where the story becomes a bit contrived. All-in-all, a good read and I will definitely be checking in with Detective Clemo again. ( )
  GirlWellRead | Oct 15, 2017 |
Odd Child Out by Gilly McMillian is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

Deeply absorbing literary suspense.

Inspector Jim Clemo is back at work, after having completed his requisite counseling. His first assignment, on the surface, is a low priority case, a probable accident.

However, the circumstances are murky and the incident did leave a terminally ill boy in a coma and another boy so traumatized he can’t – or won’t- speak.

The question Clemo and his partner much determine is if foul play was involved, or if it was a horrible accident. But, the situation is much more complicated than anyone would have imagined.

Noah, a teenager dying of terminal cancer, lies in a hospital bed, comatose, but the reader is privy to his thoughts, as he narrates the events of that fateful night.

Meanwhile, Noah’s best friend, Abdi, a Somalian refugee, hasn’t uttered a word since that night, but there may be more troubling him than his friend’s condition. Still, suspicion hangs over him, which complicates matters even more, especially when Jim’s former lover, a woman who has taken a job as a journalist decides to fan the flames of social tension surrounding Somalian refugees.

This author has a unique writing style, employing both first and third person narratives. Noah and Jim speak to us directly, while the other characters converse in third person. Switching narratives may be met with skepticism, but in my opinion, it complimented the flow of the story and truly made sense, in this case.

This story is a traditional police procedural, but it is also augmented with the deeply absorbing and heartbreaking backstory of both sets of parents. As such, the book could also easily pass as a work of contemporary fiction.

The story does not unfold in the same way many other mysteries do, with a slow pace, and much more emphasis on character and deliberately shakes out strong emotions.

Abdi’s family endured extreme cruelty in their lives, and carry deeply embeded scars, while Noah’s family has dealt with his cancer diagnosis for nearly half of his life and now must face his eminent death.

The author also delves into Jim’s personal life, adding yet another thought provoking element to the story, and once again touching upon key social issues.

While the suspense builds at an unorthodox pace, once it reached its pinnacle, I was utterly still, holding my breath, completely riveted as unexpected events began to unfold.

The characters are unique, conflicted, flawed, and completely human, some of them more likeable than others, but all very well drawn. The story is very well crafted, written in such splendid prose, with incredibly profound elements that made me think about all the many layers of humanity and the very strong bonds of family and friendship.

The ending is very stirring and I admit I may have swallowed down a lump in my throat, which is not something that happens much when I'm reading a dark and moody procedural.

This story goes much deeper than the usual mystery novel, dealing with very grim topics, but has so much added depth and emotion, that I could easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys good fiction.

4.5 stars ( )
  gpangel | Oct 14, 2017 |
3.5 Compelling, but don't go into this book expecting a suspenseful read, I found this book to be much more and less than that. Two young teen boys, friends because of their difference, one white, Noah, struggling with cancer and the long effects of hospitalizations, the other Somali, Abdi, here with his family after his family spent years in a camp. They bond because they are basically two outcasts. Become best friends, do everything together until one day one boy almost drowned and the other cannot or will not say what happened. DI Chemo, first day back after being released from mandatory leave, is given the case. Seems simple on the surface, turns to something much bigger.

The press, and what lengths they will go to in order to get a story, embellish, prey on those suffering from intense grief. Racial bias, and how people will believe anything they read if it reinforces their own opinions. A family suffering the most intense grief and how this grief leads them to behave. Secrets from a camp, where terrifying people prey on those they can. A young boy in search of answers and a sister who will do anything to help. Many issues here, but done well, a slow unraveling of the many layers within. What really happened at that canal? That is the heart of the story for many, but a bigger issue faces Abdi.

I enjoy this authors books, not straight out mysteries but her books seem to have more depth than many. Her characters are multifaceted, taking on real issues and revealing emotional contours without sappy writing. Families are families, regardless of skin color or nationality, and most want the same things for their children. To protect them and see them happy.

ARC from Edelweiss. ( )
  Beamis12 | Oct 14, 2017 |
Best friends sometimes do unexpected things. Abdi and Noah were best friends and did something that no one would expect.

The unexpected incident obviously brought the police in along with the two silent friends. Noah was put into a coma because of his injuries, and Abdi wasn't talking.

ODD CHILD OUT was definitely a study of personalities and human emotions. Each character seemed to not fit with each other, and I thought it was odd that they were family members as well as friends. I did like the "bucket list" that Noah and his father compiled, but one part of the bucket list is what caused a problem the night of the incident.

ODD CHILD OUT has us following along with the police in their investigation after Noah is found in the canal and an eye witness says she saw the best friends arguing. When Noah who is terminally ill with cancer is found floating in the canal and Abdi, his best friend, had been with him, no one knows what to think. It is difficult to imagine these boys doing anything out of the ordinary because they were star pupils.

We also follow the story being told by Abdi and Noah about what really happened as the friends silently re-live it in their minds.

The descriptions and the character development are very good and help you visualize the scenes and totally experience the emotions of each character which were mostly fear, loss, and questioning. You also feel the weight of lies and silence, truths untold, and prejudices.

ODD CHILD OUT is an emotional, tense book that will make you think and question.

Another excellent read by Gilly MacMillan. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review. ( )
  SilversReviews | Oct 4, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Interesting plot line, although the "twist" could be seen from a mile away. This book just moved way to slow for me. Too many characters and not enough depth to any of them for me to buy in or care what happened to them. It was just blah and felt like a chore to finish, which if it hadn't been a book I'd won through the Early Reviewers program, I'm not sure I would have. ( )
  she_climber | Oct 3, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062476823, Paperback)

 How well do you know the people you love…?

Best friends Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahad have always been inseparable.  But when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol's Feeder Canal, Abdi can't--or won't--tell anyone what happened.

Just back from a mandatory leave following his last case, Detective Jim Clemo is now assigned to look into this unfortunate accident.  But tragedy strikes and what looked like the simple case of a prank gone wrong soon ignites into a public battle.  Noah is British.  Abdi is a Somali refugee.   And social tensions have been rising rapidly in Bristol.  Against this background of fear and fury two families fight for their sons and for the truth.  Neither of them know how far they will have to go, what demons they will have to face, what pain they will have to suffer.

Because the truth hurts.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 07 Mar 2017 13:29:41 -0500)

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