The Other Side of Everything Book Review: A literary mystery by Lauren Doyle Owens
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Bernard White is a curmudgeonly widower who has lived in Seven Springs, Florida for decades and has kept to himself since his wife passed. When his neighbor is murdered, he emerges from his solitude to reconnect with his fellow octogenarians. These connections become a literal lifeline as a second, and then a third, elderly woman is murdered, and “the originals” as they call themselves, realize that they are being targeted.
Amy Unger is an artist and cancer survivor whose emotional recovery has not been as successful as her physical one. After the woman next door is murdered, she begins to paint imagined scenes from the murder in an effort to cope with her own loss. But when her paintings prove to be too realistic, her neighbors grow suspicious, and she soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the police.
And then there’s Maddie Lowe, a teenage waitress whose mother recently abandoned the family. As Maddie struggles to keep her family together and maintain the appearance of normal teenage life, she finds herself drawn to the man the police say is the killer.
As they navigate their increasingly dangerous and tumultuous worlds, Bernard, Amy, and Maddie begin to uncover the connections between them, and the past and present, in a novel that ultimately proves the power of tragedy to spark renewal.
In less than 24 hours this book made it’s way from my to-be-read stack to my to-be-reviewed stack. I finished The Other Side of Everything with the immense satisfaction that comes from reading a story well told.
With elegant, heartfelt writing, Owens has crafted a literary masterpiece hiding under the guise of a mystery. This novel explores more than just whodunnit, but the often painful, complicated, yet beautiful experience of life itself with fantastically crafted characters. Characters so well defined, in fact, I cared more for them than the answer to the plot’s mystery.
That isn’t to say that The Other Side of Everything is without good pacing. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Perhaps that mix of literary zeal and unputdownable writing style is what makes this debut such a success. It’s poignant yet unexpected, heartfelt yet stirring—the perfect addition to your wish list.
The mystery aspect of the novel is intriguing, but it exists mainly as an anchor for the characters surrounding it. Over 272 pages, Bernard, Maddie, and Amy discover the strange and irrefutable power that tragedy has to connect us to one another. At times there were passages so beautifully honest and humbling that I wished I was one of those readers with post-its and highlighters and pencils at the ready. There is plenty of opportunity to leave your notes in the margin.
What would you change?
It’s a beautifully done debut with plenty of moments that will fill your heart and empty it again. It’s more than a mystery novel. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I would warn, to those curious, don’t go into this read expecting a thriller novel. While it is incredibly fast-paced and entirely addicting, it’s not your standard mystery/thriller. I think the genre that suits it best would be called Literary Mystery.
The Bottom Line
My first five-star read of 2018, The Other Side of Everything is worth the add to your to-be-read stack. Perfect for readers who enjoy a sense of marrow in their mysteries, who love reading about characters that could be your own neighbor, not just a name in a book. Don’t let 2018 go by without adding this to your shelves.
Verdict: Buy It
Page Length: 272
Publisher: Touchstone (Jan 23, 2018)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of The Other Side of Everything by Lauren Doyle Owens. Keep scrolling for a rating breakdown and pro/con list.
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tag: The Other Side of Everything Book Review
- Beautiful, heartfelt writing
- None! Go read it!