The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

Publication expected 7 July 2021

‘Mercy Blain’s house was on fire, but that wasn’t her biggest problem.’

Mercy has been in hiding for two years, rarely venturing outside the safety of her house. What will she do when it burns down? After a brief stay with her ex-husband Eugene and his current partner Jose (it is complicated), Mercy and her dachshund Wasabi head off into the unknown.

So, how does a woman afflicted by agoraphobia, and subjected to crippling anxiety and panic attacks handle a road trip from Adelaide to Darwin? Slowly, and one step at a time. Slow is easy in the elderly Daihatsu Hijet Mercy bought on impulse. But it is the journey here that is important, rather than the destination. Mercy learns how to re-engage with the world by disengaging from the past and future, and by living in the present. And we learn why Mercy has been in hiding.

I must admit, it takes more courage than I have to set off on such an adventure.  Ms Lock drew me in from the beginning and held my attention to the end. I worried about Mercy, sometimes shaking my head but mostly just cheering her on. I found the descriptions of life on the road fascinating, especially Mercy’s encounters with the grey nomads and others in the caravan parks where she stayed.

This really is a lovely story, which Ms Lock writes was inspired by her own experience with anxiety and panic attacks. There are a couple of twists which make Mercy’s achievement even more enjoyable.

‘All she had to do was be.’


Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith