Review: Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller

09 Nov

Outside the Ordinary WorldMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was intrigued by the description of this book, but was also worried about reading it– I often react badly to books about infidelity.

In this case, a coincidence cemented my bond with Sylvia very early on.  I started reading this book on my 42nd birthday.  The modern day sections of the book start on her 42nd birthday– a day that for her (as me) went entirely unacknowledged by family.  My birthday was saved by on-line well wishes, hers by an encounter with the father of one of her students.

I identified with where Sylvia was in her life, even if (outside of birthdays) the details our lives are completely different.  I’m not an artist, and I don’t have anyone in my life to provide the kind of temptation she faced.  However, this is an age that seems to lead to changes– children are getting older, activities that were satisfying when younger aren’t as compelling anymore.  Marriages have lost their initial spark, and shifting priorities make it hard to establish a new common ground.

Sylvia is having a lot of trouble figuring out who she is. She was an artist, but that isn’t really working for her right now. Her role as mom isn’t feeling fulfilling, and her wife role isn’t going so well either– she and her husband aren’t really communicating about their immediate schedules and the plans for the house they’ve been renovating for years, let alone the hopes and dreams that brought them together in the first place, and that they need to keep their future together.

When she meets someone that appreciates her as an artist, as a person, and as a woman, the temptation is overwhelming. However, she knows all to well what a toll parental infidelity can take on a family.

I appreciated the insight she had into her actions, even while she denied and failed to apply what she knew.

I liked the looks at the dynamics of her various families– the family of her childhood, her husband and daughters, and her current relationship with her mother, sister and extended family.

The books jumps between Sylvia’s present and past, as she deals with her own temptations and we see the effects that her parent’s bad marriage and her mother’s affair had on her life. She often refuses to see the parallels, but we do. It increased my frustration with her, but also increased my sympathy as well.

Outside the Ordinary World is about more than infidelity.   It’s about family, and it’s about how we define who we are and who we will be.

I think this book would make for interesting discussion for a book club with members that include women in this age range.

TLC Book ToursI read Outside the Ordinary World for a tour with TLC Book Tours. For other views of the book, check out the other tour stops:


Posted by on November 9, 2010 in books, reviews, tour


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4 responses to “Review: Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller

  1. Marce

    November 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Wow, this sounds emotional, but I love that, it may even open old wounds but I will take the chance, great review Laura, adding to Wishlist.

  2. Amy

    November 10, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I’ve been wondering what this book is about. You review gave me a greatoutline of the story and what I have to look forward to without divulging the details of the book. Thank you!

    Sylvia sounds like a fascinating character whose inner turmoil and confusion many women can relate to to a greater or lesser degree. I also like the issue of how much our parents lives influence us later in life. This certainly sounds like an absorbing novel.

    ~ Amy

  3. Lisa Munley

    November 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    What an outstanding review! Thank you, Laura, for the great insight and for being on the tour.


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