In Kraft’s romance, two quirky 20-somethings embrace each other’s weirdness.
Outlandish is an idyllic, whimsical beach town on the northern coast of California. Cars aren’t allowed; leisurely bicycling is encouraged; and fine dining is abundant. Archibald “Archie” Plumby has spent the entirety of his blissful but sheltered life within the cozy confines of Outlandish, writing for a local newspaper and eating at his mother’s upscale restaurant. Born with a rare phobia of looking up, Archie carries an umbrella with him everywhere and even has a crawl space–like bedroom with lowered ceilings. While dining alone in his mother’s restaurant at his special table (fashioned with a giant indoor umbrella), he meets Tallie Greenleaf, a young photographer visiting Outlandish with her boss, famous photojournalist Gemma Perrelli. Though Archie is shy and constantly at war with his frequent panic attacks, Tallie’s warm demeanor puts him at ease, and they quickly become friends. As they grow closer, however, Archie suspects ulterior motives from Ms. Perrelli after she discloses her fascination with young adults in love. Kraft’s (Ingrid, 2014, etc.) novel is a quick, absorbing read full of thought-provoking dialogue and warm moments between not only Archie and Tallie, but Archie and his parents as well. Accompanying the text are full-color illustrations and an original soundtrack of dramatic instrumentals. These imaginative add-ons work to create the unique atmosphere of Outlandish. While the narrative of young love between two people who feel somewhat alienated from “normal” life is tender, what stands out is the insistence of Archie’s parents that his condition not be seen as a disability but rather as a special and defining character trait that should be celebrated.
Offbeat, emotionally engaging, and authentic.