The Outer Cape by: Patrick Dacey

I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway, and the beautiful cover was just calling to me for a June read! This one releases on June 27th, so I’m excited to present an early review.

The first section of this book follows Robert and Irene as their marriage endures tests. We change perspectives and get to know their individual motivations while also seeing the bigger impacts this has on each other, and more specifically, their two young sons. Irene is a stay-at-home mother, who works hard to raise Andrew and Nathan. Nevertheless, she wonders what would have happened if she’d chosen another path. She toys with the idea of pursuing her artistic side.

Robert on the other side is a man who wants to win. He has this uncontrollable desire to be the best. He uses this desire in his career and in his attempts to make money, but this eventually leads him down the path of fraud and deceit. After participating in a housing fraud scheme, he spends stints in and out of jail. When he isn’t in jail, he is not in contact with his wife and family, but rather is always scheming the next way to make some money.

The second section of this book follows Andrew and Nathan years later, they are now adults with their own lives. Andrew is married and in a very successful position at his company. Despite this, his wife isn’t happy because she wants a child. Andrew is the brother who also visits and supports his father while he is in and out of jail. Because of his wealth, he feels like he owes it to his father.

Nathan is a War on Terror veteran, and he is struggling with addiction to painkillers. He is a bit of a drifter, never really feeling happy or settling down. His worldview is altered from his time in the service, and PTSD affects him still.

Each chapter shows a different scene in the characters lives, and these glimpses are how you get to know them and piece the story together. It doesn’t necessarily follow step-by-step what happens to them. Because of this, I felt like I had to jump to some conclusions on what was happening between the lines.

The final 40-ish pages of the book are called “The Outer Cape”. In this conclusion, the family is brought together in the last days of Irene’s life. There isn’t really a scene of reconciliation, but the things that happen to the family show that they have come to grips with their lot in life, and give a picture of how they will move forward.

Here is yet another contemporary for me recently. I liked parts of it much more than others I’ve read this year. The writing really sucked me in, and I loved the depth of these characters. They are interesting people, and I somewhat wish I could have gotten to know them better. It was a little difficult to put a complete picture together. I just feel like it missed the mark for me. I realized that this wasn’t a plot-driven novel, however, the character development felt incomplete.

The one aspect I did enjoy was the theme of how the actions and upbringing of Andrew and Nathan affected them as they grew up. You could really see how parts of their parents shaped them, as well as who they were as children. Andrew was mocked as a child, but now he’s grown to be successful and even flaunts it a little. Another interesting aspect of his character is his aversion to having children of his own. Nathan on the other hand, believes he needs to be tough, and this causes him to not reach out for help and he tends to get into rough-and-tumble situations. This concept of “nurture” over “nature” has always been interested to me, and I think this was an interesting exploration of that. There were many more moments that made me pause and think, “What made him do that?”

I don’t think I will be keeping this book, I don’t have a whole lot of interest in re-experiencing it or having it on my shelf. I’m trying to reserve that for books I really loved or have a special meaning for me. I am glad to give someone else the opportunity to read it. On reflection, I think it’s possible I am too immature for this book. Not in the sense that you might think, but rather that life hasn’t ripened me in the way that would make me appreciate this book enough. I think this would be good for an adult contemporary lover, and those who like complex characters.


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