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The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock -a review

the other side of beautifulThe Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

Lost & Found meets The Rosie Project in a stunning break-out novel where a vulnerable misfit is forced to re-engage with the world, despite her best efforts.

Meet Mercy Blain, whose house has just burnt down. Unfortunately for Mercy, this goes bey ond the disaster it would be for most people: she hasn’t been outside that house for two years now.

Flung out into the world she’s been studiously ignoring, Mercy goes to the only place she can. Her not-quite-ex-husband Eugene’s house. But it turns out she can’t stay there, either.

And so begins Mercy’s unwilling journey. After the chance purchase of a cult classic campervan (read tiny, old and smelly), with the company of her sausage dog, Wasabi, and a mysterious box of cremated remains, Mercy heads north from Adelaide to Darwin.

On the road, through badly timed breakdowns, gregarious troupes of grey nomads, and run-ins with a rogue adversary, Mercy’s carefully constructed walls start crumbling. But what was Mercy hiding from in her house? And why is Eugene desperate to have her back in the city? They say you can’t run forever…

Exquisite, tender and wry, this is a break-out novel about facing anxiety and embracing life from an extraordinary new talent.

Published 7 July 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

An adorably beautiful cover for an adorably beautiful novel. I always look forward to each new novel by Kim Lock because I know that I would love it. I always find myself smiling unconsciously when reading her books; I don’t know how she does it. That is not to say that her novels are happy or funny but that there are happy & funny moment in amongst the detritus that is life. Trust Kim to always get into the heart of things.

The novel opens as Mercy’s house is on fire and we meet Mercy as she stood in the middle of the street in her jammies. She was understandably confused and trying very hard to hang on to the last shred of her sanity. Her house, the only place she felt safe in, is burning down and she is forced to take her first step onto the street after 2 years of hiding. Then the only person she could turn to is her not-quite-ex-husband, Eugene, but he couldn’t shield her either. If she can’t hide, maybe she can run… and as fate has it, her mode of transport is right outside.

Bending over, she howled into her hands. She couldn’t take this anymore. She couldn’t take the feeling of her body in a constant state of anxiety, everything tensed like a rabbit awaiting a fox. Unrelenting guilt ate at her, acid sloshing her insides. The waiting, the endless waiting. For what?

I have no idea what panic attacks are like. I just know that they are supposed to be absolutely terrifyingly bad. From reading this novel, it does feel that author has done her work in research but this is a novel and should be read as such. Mercy’s journey as she faced down her troubles is heartachingly beautiful but again it is fiction and should not be used as basis of advice.

The world wasn’t safe. Nothing was safe; nowhere was safe. I couldn’t even human.

Mercy may have begun her journey with only the van and her faithful dachshund, Wasabi, but there was a community of travellers out there. I loved this community and especially Andy, being the one she opened up to & tell-all person. Their acceptance, non-judgemental, and generous attitude towards others and life is delightful; something for us all to emulate.

Be here now, and know that whatever now is, is transient.

I may have started reading The Other Side of Beautiful with a tiny bit of trepidation because her last novel, The Three of Us, was rather hard-hitting (I rated that one 5-stars too) and I’m really not in the mood for that sort of read. However, The Other Side of Beautiful proves to be such a balm in the midst of a lockdown. Being in Mercy’s shoes while she traversed the great Australian landscape, it was truly an escape that I vicariously loved.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia via The Book Stack for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Review: Like I Can Love

Like I can Love

Like I Can Love by Kim Lock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Like I Can Love was a book that I’d automatically pick up because I’ve really enjoyed Kim Lock’s earlier work, Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. As soon as I saw her name on that curious cover and with an even curioser synopsis, I just had to read it. It was, astonishingly, a different experience from Peace, Love and Khaki Socks where I just couldn’t stop smiling and yet, probably due to Kim’s earlier profession as a breastfeeding profession but also the fact that it’s just a normal part of life, more birthing experiences! Why do you always remind me of it, Kim?

This story is told from 2 perspectives: Fairlie’s, in the present, and Jenna’s, from the past prior to her suicide. I found that it was a little hard to get into, probably due to my different expectation but also because I had to get my head around the 2 voices from different points in time plus I wasn’t too keen on Fairlie; she was one big mess of a woman at the beginning and got worse. However, around the 20% mark, the story just grabbed me and I couldn’t read fast enough! I mean I knew somebody isn’t ‘well’ and really, the secret wasn’t such a hard one to guess but I was gripped by the flow of the telling that it didn’t matter that I knew what’s going on already.

Like I Can Love isn’t actually one of those psychological thriller but it could be… It’s not written in that way but I keep thinking that it definitely has all the potentials to be one! It lacks the major tension of a thriller and we’re told half the ending by the synopsis. Nevertheless, we are rather confronted by the hard facts of life: it takes an amazing amount of courage to look for help, we need to make ourselves available/reachable, and regardless of the ending (happily or otherwise), not one person is individually at fault. There is just so much to unpack in this book…

I have truly appreciated the few hours I spent in reading this book and would recommend it for it was such a riveting and poignant read. It reveals some of the hidden & hard realities of life but these need to be acknowledged as left hidden, terrible consequences will ensue. It’s not all doom and gloom for in life, there is always hope! I was quite happy with the way this story is wrapped up and even liked Fairlie then though I have one question: what did she say in her last drunken call in the book? But it’s a very minor disturbance to an overall amazing reading experience.

Thanks to MacMillan Australian for copy eARC in exchange of honest review

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