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The Other Side: A Memoir Paperback – Deckle Edge, July 15, 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 42 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bad things have happened to Johnson, and she replays them here, sometimes in chronological order, sometimes not. She has lived through a lot—poor choices, wretched boyfriends and unsuitable husbands, pills, therapists—but mainly, kidnapping and rape by a man she once loved. Still, she persists. The men she engages with are not given names but titles (My Handsome Friend, The Man I Live With, My First Husband). So, too, is her family distantly identified (My Older Sister, etc.). Johnson focuses on how she felt, what happened, and what she saw. This is a grim, years-long ride as Johnson details her choices, her loss of feeling and initiative, her troubled dreams, her relentless acceptance of physical and sexual abuse, even as she works her way to graduate school. She has a story to tell, but the best question of the book, posed by her grandmother to My Boyfriend, is, Now tell me: what kind of man are you? It remains unanswered as Johnson moves back to the kidnapping, now 4 years past, now 13 years past. Johnson asks, Am I not endlessly circling? She is, but her obsessive, aloof, yet graphic self-portrait still aims for catharsis. --Eloise Kinney

Review

*The Other Side chosen as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

*The Other Side chosen as a finalist for an Edgar Award

*Kirkus names The Other Side one of the best books of 2014

*Chosen as a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick

*Kirkus calls The Other Side a “modern classic"

*The Houston Chronicle names The Other Side one of the 20 best books of 2014

"Ferociously beautiful and courageous, Johnson’s intimate story sheds light on the perpetuation of violence against women."
Starred Kirkus

"Johnson’s matter-of-fact retelling of the horrors that befell her is by turns poetic and journalistic but harrowing all the way through."
Starred Library Journal

"This riveting narrative of a young woman's kidnapping and rape at the hands of a former boyfriend moves fluently between dissociation and healing."
Publisher's Weekly

"After she ends their abusive relationship, Johnson's ex kidnaps, rapes, and imprisons her. The frankness and eloquence of Johnson's writing puts this true-crime memoir in a league of its own."
Marie Claire

"The Other Side [is] written with both fury and restraint. The reader feels pulled onto a fast train, in a compartment with a narrator telling an intimate and terrifying tale."
Wall Street Journal

“Her powerful new memoir, The Other Side, is about more than the crime. It’s about how complicated abusive relationships actually are. It’s about how we tell and re-tell the stories that shape our lives.”
The Houston Chronicle

"The Other Side is neither flowery nor stale, never shy or gratuitous. Instead, its haunting beauty grips the reader from the opening line. Also of note, this is not a book whose readership can be defined by gender or role or experience. A wide audience will relate to Johnson's talk of tattoos and pharmaceuticals, overlooked aspects of motherhood (moms are also humans with backstories), and creative spirits in a harsh world. The Other Side is unforgettable."
The Austin Chronicle

"The shock of violence, the uncertainty of memory, and the jagged path of healing are the skillfully braided strands of The Other Side, Lacy M. Johnson's poetic, harrowing new memoir about an abusive — and very nearly deadly — relationship."
Oregonian

"The tone of this memoir might have been completely different if the perpetrator would have been caught . . . The terror of his return, of further injury to body and psyche, follows Johnson wherever she turns. Her direct and honest prose not only evokes empathy, but an incendiary anger knowing that this existence is not just a reality for Johnson, but for countless other women as well."
Houston Press

"The tension between fact and perception forms the book’s intellectual backbone, and though The Other Side begins as a true-crime story, it flowers into an investigation of memory. Despite the subject matter, Johnson never wallows in bleakness. Her writing style is engaging and redemptive, a trick accomplished partly by virtue of Johnson’s voice—clear and direct, but with a breezy archness that belies her story’s dark core. Upon seeing her possessions in a Ziploc bag marked EVIDENCE, Johnson writes: “Nice to meet you, Evidence.” Elsewhere she exhibits both the touch of a poet (blood in her mouth becomes “the taste of a penny stolen from the kitchen jar”) and a novelist’s eye for character-fleshing detail (her mother addresses crises with Cool Ranch Doritos)."
Texas Observer

"The Other Side is powerful in its effort to do the impossible."
San Antonio Current

"On a meta-level, The Other Side is not only about the desire to understand what is ultimately incomprehensible, but also about the messy, complicated work of translating personal experience for public audiences."
The San Francisco Chronicle

"Written. . . in short chunks of powerful prose, not always chronological (though perfectly clear to follow), circling closer and closer to that day, finally zooming in on what exactly happened in that basement.
Star Tribune

"[The Other Side is] a powerful memoir."
Cleveland Plain Dealer

"This captivating memoir is as troubling as it is compelling. In The Other Side, Johnson relates the wrenching story of her victimization by an older man with whom she willingly became involved."
—Real Change News

"Johnson’s memoir is an extraordinary document, and she herself holds an important place in a movement to stop violence against women."
The Rumpus

"The descriptions are vivid and the victim is, of course, real. But throughout The Other Side Johnson’s choices are literary rather than cathartic and by the end of the book, we can only conclude that the two are one and the same. Johnson survives this experience, and the result of her years of reflection and gained insight is a well-crafted memoir that will make her a notable figure in her chosen genre."
Newcity Lit

"Gritty and gripping . . . Johnson’s haunting and powerful memoir is told with such intensely lyrical prose, it demands that you push any light, fluffy summer books aside and commit fully to this skillfully woven, disorienting narrative. Reading The Other Side is thrilling.
—CultureMap Austin

"Unsparing in both its brutality and its beauty. It knocked me out and lifted me up."
—Carrie Brownstein, Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia

"In this brilliant memoir, Lacy Johnson offers us a guide to the impossible—how to reconstruct a past when the past itself is shattered, each memory broken into pieces, left rattling around inside us. Sometimes flashes of poetry are all that we can find in the wreckage, sometimes these flashes are all that can possibly save us, brought together for brief, burning instances, and then let go. The Other Side bristles with life and energy and to read it is to be transformed.
—Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

"Wow. Just...Wow. The Other Side is the sonic boom of a powerful story meeting an even more powerful storyteller. It's hard to say anything about a book that leaves you this breathless. Lacy Johnson is my new literary hero."
—Mat Johnson, author of PYM

"Lacy M. Johnson’s powerfully moving and brilliantly structured memoir, The Other Side, asks, “How is it possible to reclaim the body after devastating violence?” Her intense desire and demand for a life lived in the body is triumphant. Johnson’s strength to free not only her physical self, but also to move through years of incapacitating fear by writing this book, is breathtaking: 'I lift the chain from my neck, over my head, let it rattle to the floor'."
—Kelle Groom, author of I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl

"In this relentlessly honest memoir, she searches through her shredded memories of their relationship and his descent into the violence that nearly killed her. More importantly, she writes movingly about her attempts, first faltering, to overcome her depression, anxiety, and despair, and her gathering strength to confront the future."
—Barnes & Noble

"I still can't stop talking about this book and thinking about it and feeling deeply emotional about it. Some books just kick you hard in the gut and you see the world differently."
—Book People of Moscow

"When she was twenty-one, Lacy M. Johnson was kidnapped, raped, and nearly murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Johnson’s new memoir The Other Side is her reconstruction of that time in her life—of the events leading up to and away from that harrowing act of domestic violence. Yet The Other Side does something remarkable: Despite its disturbing content, it never wallows in despair. Instead, it becomes a moving, life-affirming work about learning to take control of one’s own story."
—Brazos Bookstore

"To put this memoir to paper was brave. To have that bound, sold and read by the general public is downright heroic. The Other Side will break your heart and shatter your spirit. It will also be the most hopeful and inspirational book you read this year. Maybe ever. Ms. Johnson reconstructs the broken bits of her mind and body before our eyes, at once questioning memory and choices made but ultimately owning her situation. Poetic and gut wrenching, devastating and beautiful, The Other Side is one of those rare books that will change you."
—Javier Ramirez, City Lit Books

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