Literary Fiction

Going Out – Scarlett Thomas

28 October 2019
Going Out Book Cover Going Out
Scarlett Thomas
Canongate Books
5 April 2012

Luke is twenty-five and allergic to the sun. He is stuck in his bedroom, where the world comes to him through TV, the internet and Julie's visits. Julie, meanwhile, is brilliant, kind and could be changing the world. Unfortunately she is too terrified of aeroplane crashes, road accidents and potentially life-threatening bacteria to leave her home town.

When someone contacts Luke and claims that he can cure him, Luke and Julie have to deal with their fears and face the world outside. With four friends, wellies and a homemade space suit, they set off in a VW Camper van along Britain's B-roads. It is a journey that might just change their lives.


Luke is allergic to the sun and his best friend Julie has phobias about flying, car crashes, bacterial infections and is frightened of leaving her hometown. Together they are a pair that has consoled each other in their worries and fears, and over the years developed a bond where their vulnerabilities provided the glue. This relationship became so inter-dependent that they hid or ruined any opportunities in life that threatened to tear them apart, including going to University.

One day, Luke decides he wants to accept an opportunity of a cure, but it involves a road trip to Wales to visit a healer. Luke, Julie and 4 friends set off on a road trip to Wales in a blacked-out VW Campervan, using only B-roads. Each friend is searching for meaning or resolution in their own lives, providing a wonderful array of issues that are well observed and carefully handled.

The character development and interaction amongst the friends provides the main theme for the book. The dialogue is very well written, demonstrating a humorous and engrossing interplay as they discuss and challenge their separate problems. Luke and Julie are really interesting characters, who have a very selfless love for each other (currently platonic) and it’s endearing to watch this develop throughout the story. We discover ways in which they exercise that love for each other, and wonder how their relationship be defined when it’s all over.

Going Out is a very entertaining story with a strong moral message and I would certainly recommend reading it.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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