Anyone who has been following my book reviews, knows that I'm a huge fan of Tin House. Lacy M. Johnson's memoir, The Other Side is a new offering from Tin House and as soon as I saw it advertised, I had to read it.
PLOT- Lacy M. Johnson fell in love with a Spanish professor who was teaching at the college that she was attending. He was charming and handsome at first, but when she moved in with him, the abuse started. After several years of putting up with his erratic behavior and both physical and mental abuse, Johnson left him. She thought that he had left the country, but instead he was waiting and plotting revenge. He kidnapped Lacy and brutally raped her, threatening to kill her. She would have been dead, if not for his mistake of leaving her alone, tied up, giving her enough time to escape. Although she escaped, she is left with scars and he fled the country, making it impossible for her to feel safe.
LIKE - Johnson's story is a powerful force that is impossible to put down. I think the style is what works best. She writes in a finessed stream of consciousness. She floats between flashbacks to her childhood, the abusive relationship, the rape and her life after the rape. She teases out the information about the rape, not divulging the full details until the very end of the story. This may sound sick, but I kept reading, wanting to know exactly what he did to her. It was horrific and upsetting. It was a strong choice to keep this at the end of the story, as it added to the tension.
I also like that we knew early on, that in the end, she was able to marry a nice guy and have kids with him. This sense of a happy ending, made the horrific portions easier to bear. Johnson is raw and honest, but never tries to make the reader pity her. This makes her a compelling protagonist worth rooting for.
DISLIKE- The only very minor negative, is that when Johnson switched between flashbacks, it sometimes took me a few moments to realize that a switch had occurred. Occasionally, the transitions were not as clear as they could be. However, this was only in a handful of sections and usually the floating between timelines worked very well.
RECOMMEND- Yes. A huge yes! The Other Side is a very powerful memoir and Johnson is brave for sharing her experience. I would especially recommend this to anyone who has or is currently in an abusive relationship. It would also be good for younger women who are starting to date, as a cautionary tale for understanding what is unacceptable behavior and where it could lead.