Imagine being stuck. Indoors. Your entire life. That’s how it is for Luke, the main character in Scarlett Thomas’s winsome new novel Going Out (Vintage, $13). Luke suffers from a rare allergy to the sun, so in addition to being incredibly pale, he is incredibly bored. After hearing that a mysterious doctor in Wales can cure him, Luke’s friends make him a protective suit of tinfoil, slap a helmet on his head and set out on a road trip. While Luke has the obvious problem, his friends are just as incapacitated—his best pal Julie has a crippling fear of germs, food with bones and just about everything else.
Inspired by Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, going out is an unconventionally sweet book about how these friends gradually learn how to live without fear.