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The Other Side: A Memoir

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,353 ratings  ·  175 reviews
Lacy Johnson was held prisoner in a soundproofed room in a basement apartment that her ex-boyfriend rented and outfitted for the sole purpose of raping and killing her. She escaped, but not unscathed. The Other Side is the haunting account of a first passionate and then abusive relationship, the events leading to Johnson’s kidnapping and imprisonment, her dramatic escape, ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published July 15th 2014 by Tin House Books (first published June 16th 2014)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,353 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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4.5 stars

A masterful memoir from Lacy Johnson about her kidnapping and rape at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. Every word felt so perfect and necessary and yet the writing also felt effortless. Johnson captures the terror and horror of her assault. But she focuses The Other Side on what came before and after, what led to this grotesque event and how her trauma has affected her afterward. I felt stunned by the precision of Johnson's prose and the powerful way she conveys emotion in writing that ve
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lacy Johnson was kidnapped, raped and then threatened to be shot first in her cunt and then her head with an assault rifle by an ex-boyfriend.

This book is about living in the aftermath and about memory.

Lacy tells her story at the start of the book, and immediately calls into question her own memory of the events in light of the official police reports of the crime. She finds she mis=remembers which police officer questioned her, which one escorted her back to the house. Details in the official
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Wow" is the word. This novel reminds me of ballet: so grindingly painful to perform, such a pleasure to watch. Johhnson is a poet, and her memoir is poetic--not lyrical or flowery, but tight and dense. Every word's the perfect word. All the dull stuff is cut away, and we're left with only what's fascinating and revealing. And the honesty! It makes you realize that most of what you read, and ALL of what you read online, is a bunch of joking around to cover up the truth. It all must have taken so ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I recently took a seminar at my Alma Mater, University of Houston, and Johnson gave a talk and then signed copies of this book.

Johnson chronicles the abusive relationship she had with a professor while attending university. This relationship leads to the former boyfriend kidnapping and raping Johnson for a twenty-four hour period.

What Johnson does here is try to make sense of how she ended up in such a relationship and to reconcile the life she has now with the toxic relationship from the past.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: True Crime, Strong Women, Biography, Non-fiction, Crimes on Women, Mental Health
I could not bring myself to write this review, immediately after finishing it and yet even after a fortnight of reading this book, even thinking about it sends a cold chill down my spine, and I can feel my heartbeat increase a bit.
Lacy M. Johnson might just be one of the bravest women alive. The Other Side, is her memoir about the author’s imprisonment and rape, on the night of July 5th, 2000, at the hands of a man she had once dated. She was just 21, the same age I'm now and to think she escape
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. Beautifully written. A courageous young woman's reflection on a traumatic past that goes further back, even, than the event that finally shattered her fragile existence. Told in a back-and-forth, present-and-past narrative that some might find confusing or difficult to follow. It was an effective storytelling choice, I think, however, because you get the sense of her living with and coping through a very confused, difficult to follow reality. Though written in a poetic, artistic manner ...more
Traci at The Stacks
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Holy cow this book is amazing. Brutal. Terrifying. Emotional and clinical. True crime memoir? Is that a thing? This is that. Lacy Johnson is a force. Brief and thorough.
Dec 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
While the crime committed on this author are horrendous, this memoir is so disjointed as to render the reader unable to determine time frames or sequence of events.
Audacia Ray
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2018
This book really blew me away. Sometimes folks ask me why I read about terrible things and trauma all the time, and this is it: because when a writer processes trauma and turns it into art, I’m in awe. Reading this book, a memoir of being kidnapped and raped by a man the writer used to live with, I was in awe of the force and directness of the writing, the sense-making process, the acceptance of her own wild rage and complicated memories. I don’t think trauma serves any higher purposes or happen ...more
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really close to perfect. Haunting.
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her honesty takes my breath away! Her successes have been hard won. I admire her.
Sam Reaves
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it
In 2000 a young woman was kidnapped and raped by an abusive boyfriend she had broken up with, managing to escape before he could carry out his plan to kill her. Unlike most victims of abusive relationships, she was a talented writer with the courage to look her trauma in the eye. This book is the result. It is harrowing. I hope it was effective therapy; it is certainly effective storytelling. Lacy Johnson was a small-town girl who went off to college after a stormy adolescence and got involved w ...more
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow! A powerfully moving memoir of the ongoing internal mental and emotional processing the author goes through following her kidnapping, rape and abuse by an ex-partner.
Her struggle to work herself back from despair and depression to some semblance of a "normal" life and relationships with others, and ultimately her recognition that she can not ever completely regain the self she was before. The author's words vividly recreate the experiences and thoughts for the reader and I personally found t
Antonia Crane
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you are looking for a rape story pulsing with poetry and violence, snatch this book and don't let go until the crashing tone forces you to throw it against the wall in fury. From the get, the voice of this true account digs deep into sad, cagey heart of a woman flailing to move forward in her life after The Man She Lived With rapes her post-break up. As a woman who has done many incredibly creepy things (for money) and as an educator, the super slimy (but totally somehow normalized) older pro ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book will leave you with an anxious buzz and hum in your brain for days, as well as a vast relief that this did not happen to you. The writing is initially staccato and bald in a way that distracts from the story telling - something about the pacing of the sentences that interrupts a fluid read, but it switches to a more rhythmic telling when dealing with the aftermath of the traumatic event. Despite the off-putting style, the author was knowledgeable on the subject of anxiety, stress, and ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book is all over the place.
It's written super choppy and it was tough to follow for me.
Short paragraphs that are broken up for no reason at all.
Johnson went through a traumatic life experience but I feel like she glazed over it in the book.
I understand that writing about something so traumatizing is hard, but if you aren't going to commit 100% to the process, what's the point?!
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thought I was going to end up giving this book four stars. But it doesn't deserve anything below a five. This story was told to the point, smoothly, and at the same time you sense cruel hesitation trapping Johnson.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very well-written memoir about a horrible crime committed to the author. The crime is the central focus, but the memoir is a rich contemplation of Johnson's life as well.
Cris (the_book_adventurer)
This was a terribly heartbreaking, incredibly sad, and also extremely brave true story. It's hard to give a review on a book like this because of all the terrible and traumatic incidences that the author went through and everything that is written in this true story. Not because things like rape, kidnappings, and sexual assault aren't real, because they very much are. But it's hard to put into words a review about a true experience with these details because they are so horrible, and because I d ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredibly powerful memoir. I appreciated that much of the focus was on Johnson's efforts to put her kidnapping into the context of the rest of her life; this book seemed to reflect more on her processing of trauma than on the traumatic event itself, which is ... I mean, that's why traumatic events are so traumatizing: It takes a lot of time and effort to come to terms with them.

I've read in a recent article from Johnson that some people criticized this book because they didn't find
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I’ve never read anything that invokes so well the impact of trauma on parenting. I read a lot of true crime—this book reminds me how much better it is when written by someone who was there, the survivor/victim (I prefer “victim” when I talk about my own experience, because it emphasizes that what happened to me is illegal, but I want to be careful about my language because I know others have different feelings, and I never know what to use when describing other’s experiences). True cr
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
This was a quick read but not an easy one. Johnson’s non linear narrative holds nothing back, allowing the reader to explore her mind, her trauma, and her memories. Her story challenges the way we think of sexual assault, and the conversation we have about it, and what this means for assault survivors in the “after.”
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I like the way the author tells this story. The book is not full of details about her kidnapping a rape, it is more about who she was and is and how she has been affected emotionally by the assault and others like it. I like that she slowly reveals details. She story certainly isn't chronological, but more like a diary, a true memoir. I thought this was a good book.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Incredible incredible incredible memoir. I'm in awe of Johnson's writing and way she talks about trauma. I read half of this book last night, and the other half today. It's nearly impossible to put down. Big TW for rape, sexual violence, abuse.
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. Lacy M. Johnson is incredible.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
the last third of this book is amazing.
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm still thinking about this one, weeks later. The bumper-sticker version of this memoir is easy to describe -- the aftermath of one woman's experience being kidnapped and raped by a former boyfriend -- but the memoir itself is harder to pin down. The kidnapping itself has very little page-time here, with Johnson focusing on the relationships she had leading up to this boyfriend, and the choices she made in the relationship itself. There are parts of the book that are the literary equivalent of ...more
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I saw Lacy do a speaking engagement and book reading on her true story of being kidnapped and raped by her estranged boyfriend at my local bookstore. It was very gut wrenching and disturbing to say the least. My heart goes out to Lacy as you can tell years later that this is still haunting her. I too was involved with a controlling man who had a violent streak that I loved dearly when I was in my 20s and I completely understand how it can shatter your trust not only in the world but on a deeper ...more
Aug 29, 2014 added it
Difficult, difficult, riveting material. I read this memoir in two days, putting aside other things I should have been doing. Horror, pity, and a need to know how things turned out drew me on.

Johnson is at her strongest in slowly painting in a portrait of the abusive relationship that eventually led to her being kidnapped, imprisoned, and raped by a former lover--she would probably have been murdered by him as well had she not managed to escape when he temporarily left her alone. She allows us
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Lacy M. Johnson is the author of The Reckonings and the memoir The Other Side, which was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, and the CLMP Firecracker Award in Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Tin House, Guernica, and elsewhere. She lives in ...more

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