Outside Wonderland: Book summary and reviews of Outside Wonderland by Lorna Jane Cook

Outside Wonderland

A Novel

By Lorna Jane Cook

Outside Wonderland
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Published in USA  Mar 2011,
    336 pages.

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About this book

Book Summary

A transcendent tour de force that explores the question "How will my loved ones carry on without me?"

When they were just children, two tragedies robbed Alice, Griffin, and Dinah Stenen of their parents. Now, as adults, their lives seem to be in crisis, each sibling struggling and in need of someone to turn to...

And without their parents' guidance - they falter.

But what they don't know is that their parents are watching them from a place not unlike heaven - worrying, smiling, reminiscing, and perhaps even guiding their children as each makes their tentative way towards happiness…

With Outside Wonderland, Lorna Jane Cooke delivers an emotional powerhouse of a novel, a wholly original work destined to stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

Publishing simultaneously in hardcover, paperback and ebook

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Although following three siblings with multiple relationships can get a little confusing, the characters are never less than engaging and appealing." - Booklist

"Overly sentimental, Cook's latest suffers from a number of flaws." - Publishers Weekly

"Lorna Cook has created a lovely heartfelt world where life often gets in the way of finding happiness. You will fall in love with these characters." - Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of Winter Garden

"From the very opening pages of Lorna Jane Cook's gorgeous Outside Wonderland, you realize two things: that you are in the hands of a strong, gifted writer, and that you should prepare yourself for anything to happen in this original, poetic, and riveting story. Those two realizations are affirmed again and again, even to the final page - which I hesitated to turn because I did not want this book to end." - Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals and The Kindness of Strangers

Read the prologue and first chapter

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Shirley F. (Franksville, WI)
Still hoping
I wanted to like this book. I had a hard time relating to the 3 siblings and their "poor me" attitudes which affected nearly every life choice. I didn't think that the parents watching from "there" really added anything to the book and their part seemed contrived. This book felt like it was written as a made-for-TV script - not too much depth so that it could appeal to a wide audience.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Kaye D. (Huntley, IL)
Left Me Wanting Move - Loved It!!!!
This was a wonderful book, I enjoyed reading every word. It followed the lives of three orphaned children and their relationships. Each one had been affected by the early deaths of their parents in different ways and this story followed each one of their relationships and how different each one of them were. A side story involved their deceased parents and their watching over their childrens' lives from heaven. I would highly recommend this book for anyone and think it would make for interesting conversations at a book club. I was sorry to see it end, I would have liked to keep reading about the lives of Alice, Dinah and Grif.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Margaret H. (Springfield, VA)
Outside Wonderland
What happens to children when their parents die while they are young? The three young adults are still trying to overcome the loss they felt and find their own ways in the world. The older daughter, Alice, is an actress in New York and not interested in a lasting relationship. Diana, the younger daughter, has a quick fling with a man on a cruise and finds that she is pregnant. The brother, Griffin, is in a relationship with Theo which is in trouble for a number of reasons. The three of them find their place in the world and the happiness they have been looking for since their parents died. Meanwhile, the parents look on from heaven, wishing they could help but at the same time finding their own happiness. The use of the parental angels does not help the story move but does add some humor. One does want everything to turn out well but the ending seems to be too contrived.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Judi S. (Boyes Hot Springs, CA)
Outside Wonderland
Outside Wonderland was a sort of Alice In Wonderland story. It follows the lives of three siblings: Alice, Griffin, and Dinah who lost their parents at a very young age. We root for them as each (now adult) struggles to discover what love really looks like, and what home means to them.

Like Alice, they ultimately discover that the answers most often lie within, and that what is already around us is often the very thing we are desperately searching for.

This would probably be a good book for book groups and might lead to some thoughtful discussions. I gave this an average rating because the images of the parents watching from someplace "not unlike heaven" was too predictable and sweet for my taste.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Tricia L. (Auburn, WA)
An intriguing read.
What a lovely picture of parents staying near their children even after death to guide them through life. I enjoyed this book, and was interested in the characters.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Karen E. (Sandy, UT)
Outside Wonderland
A very sweet book that slowly pulls the reader in. The further I got into this book, the more enjoyable it became. Presented as more whimsical than spiritual, the idea of parents in the afterlife watching their children grow was still a comforting thought. But the life lessons were there and the point that eternity is just a short lifetime away was clear. An enjoyable book!

...40 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Lorna Jane Cook was born in Redwood City, California, and grew up in Michigan. She graduated from college with a B.A. in social work, and embarked on a career path from Michigan to Philadelphia and Washington D.C., working at a runaway shelter; a group home for teenage girls; an emergency services program; and on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant. Finally, she turned to novel-writing, an obvious trajectory. More about the author and her two previous books, Departures and Home Away From Home can be found at www.lornajcook.com.

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