An Atlantic staff writer explores the highs and lows of not fitting in, drawing on her own life experiences growing up as a Russian immigrant in West Texas as well as interviews with a range of unique characters.
Khazan goes to great lengths to look at multiple types of outsider stories, since so many people feel different for such a wide variety of reasons, and they all respond to it in their own ways. This book isn’t just a lighthearted, anecdotal tale of how it’s OK to be an outsider. Instead, Khazan outlines the fascinating, often heartbreaking reality of how difficult it can be for people who don’t fit in ... The people Khazan interviews are fascinating, and she does a magnificent job of bringing their stories to light with both gentleness and honesty while reminding the reader that no one is ever alone in feeling weird.
Weird is a distinctly odd creation. A medley of social science reporting, autobiographical confession and in-depth interviews with an array of 'weird' people, it is held together—just barely—by the singular voice of its author ... By turns insouciantly candid, calmly authoritative and poignantly insightful, Khazan’s persona has a startling freshness that ultimately wins over the reader, though not without inspiring a fair amount of head-scratching and eyebrow-raising along the way ... a voluminous catalogue of the ways humans create groups that include some and exclude others...extending deep empathy and genuine curiosity to her subjects ... Weird is at its strongest when Khazan allows herself to explore, with bracing candor and unexpected humor, what it feels like to be weird ... Even readers who have not organized their identity around being different, as Khazan has, will relate to the fundamentally human experience of being the odd man or woman out.
Khazan tries to do much too much in her well-written, often absorbing work of memoir and reportage ... Contrary to her claim, Khazan is not weird. Nor are many, if any, of the three dozen unusual individuals she has interviewed. They are all different, by virtue of some combination of appearance, behaviors, or circumstances, or all of the above. Their stories are fascinating. But don’t expect a parade of the ultra-strange. They’re not here ... An interesting account of often painful lives, then, but hardly an occasion for celebrating your inner weirdness.