Kip, the main character in Odd Man Out is the odd man in multiple ways. Visiting his Gran along with five female cousins, Kip is the only boy, the only one who isn’t a regular, and the only one who doesn’t know how he will survive a summer where the rules have been turned upside down. Since Gran’s rambling old house will soon be torn down, anything goes (except tearing down load-bearing walls). Gran’s rules are written on the walls, and the most important one seems to be no whining. To make matters worse, Kip is equally uncertain about fitting in back home when his mother and her new husband do finally return from their vacation (carefully not referred to as a honeymoon) in
As usual, Ellis has peopled her popular fiction with quirky characters that jump off the page. Gran’s “anything goes” approach to her impending move, hobo dinners, and trips to the free store are balanced by a vulnerability that makes you as nervous as her grandchildren when she is rushed off the Island suffering from a possible heart attack. And, the “girlatorium” as Kip refers to his cousins are as engaging as they are unique―insists that she is a dog who speaks human. What is different about Odd Man Out though is the increasingly complex and subtle way that Ellis introduces sensitive issues such as mental illness. She is a writer at the top of her game. I can only marvel at her skill and look forward to her next book.