Review: The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock


Title: The Other Side of Beautiful

Author: Kim Lock

Published: 7th July 2021, HQ Fiction

Status: Read July 2021 courtesy Harlequin



My Thoughts:


The Other Side of Beautiful is a wonderfully engaging contemporary novel from Kim Lock.

“It was almost midnight. It was the eve of Mercy’s thirty-sixth birthday. None of these things—not the orange flames nor the agog neighbours, not the birthday nor the deafly ringing ears—were Mercy’s biggest problem, either.”

Watching her home burn to the ground, her pet Dachshund, Wasabi, cradled in her arms, Mercy Blain fights to hold herself together. Panic attacks have prevented her venturing further than her driveway for two years, and now she is standing on the road, surrounded by neighbours and emergency service personnel, her sanctuary destroyed. Desperation forces her to turn to her not-quite ex-husband as a temporary refuge, but his new live-in boyfriend is not exactly welcoming, leading Mercy to impulsively purchase a vintage (read small and dingy) camper van. With no desire except to be anywhere else, Mercy impulsively decides to leave everything behind, and drive from Adelaide to Darwin.

“She wanted it to be over—she wanted to be on the other side of it all.”

While Mercy’s journey is an impulse, it’s a brave move to drive the 3000km+ from southern to northern Australia, anxiety or not. Having left Adelaide with not much more than the clothes on her a back, Wasabi, and, rather unexpectedly, the boxed cremains of a stranger, she has no choice but to endure the stress of interacting with strangers to source supplies. The route is also popular with ‘grey nomads’ and other travellers, and though the camper van, adorned with a message ‘Home is wherever you are’, provides Mercy with privacy, she’s rarely truly alone. Her road trip ‘companions’ are charming, kind and persistent, and eventually Mercy responds when they reach out.

“A panic attack was her body preparing to run for its life. Digestion halted, all rational cognitive function ceased and she became a helpless passenger in a runaway body.”

Panic disorders are often misunderstood. When not in the middle of an attack, Mercy, a doctor, is aware her fears are irrational but she feels powerless in its grip. her crippling ordeal with anxiety, triggered by three traumatic incidents which occurred in a single week, has an authenticity which is borne of the author’s own experience. I found Mercy to be a very sympathetic character, especially as I learned more about her circumstances, and I was invested in both her emotional and physical journey.

“Or she could find somewhere in that great in-between, that place of nuance and clarity and balance. That place where she could do her best, do what she needed to do, and not let the fear of pain and hurt, all the infinite what ifs, crowd her mind until she could do nothing….”

Written with heart, humour and compassion, I enjoyed being a passenger on this journey through Australia’s stunning interior landscape, alongside a character I really came to care about, and her sausage dog. The Other Side of Beautiful is genuine, gracious and entertaining.


Available from Harlequin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 06:39:22

    This sounds great! 🙌

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Jennifer
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 09:55:37

    Lovey review, Shelleyrae, of a terrific novel.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. erin @ Reading On A Star
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 11:00:56

    amazing review!!

    Liked by 1 person


  4. WendyW
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 11:26:23

    OH, this does sound fascinating. Your review is so thorough.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Book of Secrets
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 22:40:32

    I like the panic attack quote. I think so many people can relate to that.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. 🤍The Butterfly Reader 🖤 (Querying) (@sweet_cherry69)
    Jul 18, 2021 @ 00:44:16

    This sounds really good!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. allthebookblognamesaretaken
    Jul 18, 2021 @ 01:11:29

    Lovely review. I would love to just drop everything and drive across the country. Hopefully that is something my daughter and I can do next summer.

    Liked by 1 person


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  9. Helen Murdoch
    Jul 21, 2021 @ 08:08:37

    I suffered from panic attacks in the past and this book looks really good as the reader can see how others deal with them. I have a copy on my TBR shelf so am looking forward to this one.



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