The Other Side of Everything by Laura Doyles Owens


4 stars ****

On a stormy day, a gruesome tragedy will unsettle a quiet town in Florida. Bernard was the first to smell the smoke and called 911. But it was too late. When the paramedics carried Adel out covered in a white sheet, life in the Seven Springs would never be the same. Especially for Bernard, Amy, and Maddie.

The Other Side of Everything is about the intersection of three individuals, three different generations, living in a small town. Bernard, a widower, lost his wife from Cancer and a lover from suicide. He lives alone in his home which he rarely leaves. Amy, an artist and cancer survivor has lost her spirit to live. Numbing her pain through alcohol, her marriage is slowly whittling until her husband leaves. Maddie is a 15-year-old trying to navigate herself in an adult world. With her father working at night, she fumbles through life making some wrong decisions to placate the wound left by her mother’s abandonment. The murder creates a shift in all these individuals, bringing back some feeling from the numbness. Creating movement where there was stagnation. It causes everyone to take a hard look in the mirror.

Owen’s ease of writing creates a novel that is pleasurable to read. She uses just the right words and amount to fill our imaginations with the characters and scenes. She develops each character slowly and carefully, revealing relevant details while leaving some questions for the reader’s imagination. The plot of the novel is unique and different from other mysteries I have read. The piece almost comes across as more psychological rather than a crime story. The three main characters have experienced loss in several ways. Bernard his wife and a lover, Amy her uterus, and Maddie’s abandonment. All of these individuals are in a stagnant state of purgatory crippled by their pain. As we learn the backstory of the characters, we understand their present life. Each of these characters finds a way to deal with the crime, some finding their passion again. And then there is another murder.

Owen’s creates an emotionality charged atmosphere of an elderly population. There is a polarization of loneliness and isolation to companionship and love. With the loss of life in the story, the emotional fragility of age gives the reader a deeper awareness on the backside of life.

As I former resident of Fort Lauderdale, I really enjoyed being transported to the Sunshine state. From the afternoon threats of thunderstorms, the no-see-ums longing to nip at your skin, the endless display of canals and waterways, Owen’s depiction of Florida is on point. Tropical Acres!

Overall, this was an entertaining novel and binge-worthy read, I recommend The Other Side of Everything.

Thank you, NetGalley, Touchstone, and the author for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.



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