The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock. (2021).
**4 out of 5 stars**
**Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review; published 7 July 2021**
Meet Mercy, whose house has just burnt down. Unfortunately this is made worse by the fact she hasn’t been outside the house in 2 years. Flung out into the world, Mercy is forced to go to her not-quite-ex-husband Eugene’s house. But it turns out she can’t really stay there. So begins her unwilling journey. After the chance purchase of a cult classic campervan (tiny, old, smelly), she sets off north from Adelaide to Darwin with her sausage dog Wasabi and a mysterious box of cremated remains. On the road, through badly timed breakdowns, troupes of grey nomads, and run-ins with a rogue adversary, her walls start crumbling. But what was she hiding from and why is Eugene desperate for her return? They say you can’t run forever…
Mercy is the type of character that you find yourself rooting for, you just want her to have her happy ending and life be a bit easier for her. We are introduced to Mercy as her house is burning down, which is a traumatic enough event for anyone, but when you haven’t left that house in 2 years I can only imagine how horrifying that would be. Over the course of the novel we gradually learn the events that happened which lead to Mercy feeling unable to leave her home; unconnected events which occurred in the same week, each would have had an affect by themselves but together it proved too much for Mercy. I think it was a good demonstration of just how easily life can change for any of us. I liked that while there were some emotional scenes, scattered throughout were humorous moments to counteract which made the book feel not too heavy. Shoutout to Wasabi who sounded adorable!
Overall: I would happily recommend this contemporary story that looks at facing your fears and anxieties in order to move on with your life and find some peace.