26 April, 2013

Review: The Other Side Of Us by Sarah Mayberry

*The Other Side of Us is a book with something interesting to say but character choices kept me from caring about it. On the plus side, it's a free read in the Kindle Store so you won't be out anything if you give Mayberry a shot.

This is a book by an Australian author. This became important because some key cultural differences set me up to question the entirety. Plus there are annoying pet scenes. Look, I'll just come out and say it. Their dogs bang before they do and with possibly more enthusiasm. Afterward Oliver acts like his dog has been roofied and sold into the sex trade. It's kind of weird. Whatever, dog subplot, you freaked me out. Oliver is probably overreacting because his wife cheated on him. Finding out his dog is stepping out too was just overload.

Mackenzie was in a life altering car crash but due to her past success as a television producer is not bankrupted by the experience. She has that easy, unthinking affluence of many a romance heroine. When we meet Mackenzie she worries that she's come across as a bitch to Oliver, despite what seemed to be completely reasonable reactions. Oliver likes to come over unannounced. Mackenzie apologizes for pages over her rude inability to drop everything in her life to focus on whatever whim the stranger next door has come up with. She tells him she needs to answer an important call, he keeps talking. I'd be rude to the guy too.

I couldn't get a handle on Mackenzie. At the beginning of the book she is all about doing her rehab. I know a thing or two about post surgical exhaustion. Her nausea, shaking, sudden extreme fatigue all felt real to me. Her obsession with her scars did not. Mackenzie explores her scars with the careful consideration of a fetishist. She's had them for a year - it's not like they're new. Mayberry wants you to know that Mackenzie is weakened by injury, covered in scars, and unable to conduct her normal life. Suddenly Mackenzie is cleaning out sheds, filling wheelbarrows with gravel and taking long walks in the sand. (If you've had your pelvis rebuilt long walks in the sand are very much not on your To Do list.) The first time she has sex she requires special positioning to avoid severe pain from her hip. The rest of the time she's just up for it however. When Mackenzie was vomiting after using her weights I understood why she couldn't return to her job in television production. When she's walking to the grocer and working a shovel I didn't. Mackenzie has a super hot ex who wants her back but never met her needs. I liked him much more than Oliver.

Oliver was almost as absurd as Mackenzie. The guy is a rock star turned studio man. He left his wife several months ago but isn't divorced. When he takes up with Mackenzie his brother has kittens. Long soulful talks about taking things slow and knowing your limits and not rushing in take place. Oliver is completely unlike every rock star I've met or currently know. I started to understand why his wife (who wants him back, of course) cheated on him. He puts the E in Emo. It's a shame I couldn't buy into the leads because Mayberry has a lot to say about reinventing yourself after failure or disappointment. Oliver and Mackenzie both look to the dreams of their youth to form a dream for their future. This apparently involves rejecting commercial success. So to wrap up, unlikeable and unlikely leads, issues of consent in the canine community, exs that want you back so bad, realistic conflicts and a lot of emo flouncing. I might try another Mayberry but this one didn't move me.


  1. I really loved this book, yet I see the points you (and other naysayers) raise.

    The dog plot really, really bugged me. I think what happens is meant to be a sly joke about a classic Harlequin trope, but for two responsible people not to spay/neuter . . . It felt to me like consistent characterization was violated for the sake of a joke.

  2. Mayberry's "Her Best Worst Mistake" is a better bet: unusual characters, driven to act in self-destructive ways, who become better people. Most of "The Other Side of Us" didn't work for me, but occasionally her work has remarkable power.