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The Other Side of Everything

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“A first-rate murder mystery.” —People

“[For] fans of crime fiction wanting literary flair and emotional depth.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Laura Lippman meets Megan Abbott in this suspenseful literary debut about three generations of neighbors whose lives intersect in the aftermath of a crime.

Bernard White is a curmudgeonly widower who has lived in Seven Springs, Florida for decades and has kept to himself since his wife passed. When his neighbor is murdered, he emerges from his solitude to reconnect with his fellow octogenarians. These connections become a literal lifeline as a second, and then a third, elderly woman is murdered, and “the originals” as they call themselves, realize that they are being targeted.

Amy Unger is an artist and cancer survivor whose emotional recovery has not been as successful as her physical one. After the woman next door is murdered, she begins to paint imagined scenes from the murder in an effort to cope with her own loss. But when her paintings prove to be too realistic, her neighbors grow suspicious, and she soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the police.

And then there’s Maddie Lowe, a teenage waitress whose mother recently abandoned the family. As Maddie struggles to keep her family together and maintain the appearance of normal teenage life, she finds herself drawn to the man the police say is the killer.

As they navigate their increasingly dangerous and tumultuous worlds, Bernard, Amy, and Maddie begin to uncover the connections between them, and the past and present, in a novel that ultimately proves the power of tragedy to spark renewal.

259 pages, Hardcover

First published January 23, 2018

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Lauren Doyle Owens

4 books49 followers

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5 stars
262 (13%)
4 stars
753 (37%)
3 stars
784 (39%)
2 stars
164 (8%)
1 star
47 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 273 reviews
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,738 reviews14.1k followers
February 11, 2018
3.5 A different and unique take on a murder mystery. First,note that there is no girl, mother, daughter nor sister in the title. So refreshing. Second, in the books summary there are no comparisons to Gone Girl or Girl on the Train. A big zing!! Third, the murders concern three women, all octogenarians, all part of a group that referred to themselves as "The originals."

They once had mates, but now one could not help but notice how many have died, leaving a wife there, a husband here. But who or why is someone targeting the elderly? They decide to protect themselves as much as possible and come up with another plan. Two other young women will involve themselves peripherally in these cases.one an artist, a young women, who has already lost much. The other a teenage girl who has an unusual cush, and then later a secret. Layer by later we peel back the stories to the very beginning, finding that the motive was one that has a long past.

Character driven, neighborhood illicit doings. The reason I liked this book so much, is that after the murders, rather than stressing on the high cost that the neighborhood suffered, it focused instead on the opportunities made apparent after the murders. Doors closed for some, but new doors opened for others. Very well done, I do believe I didn't roll my eyes once.

ARC from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Sarah Joint.
445 reviews985 followers
January 26, 2018
This is crime fiction that's more emotional than thrilling, but that's not a bad thing. You get to know the characters very well. They're all very different people, at different points of their life, but share one small connection: the neighborhood they live in.

Bernard has been in this neighborhood for what seems like forever. He's watched as some people move on, some people die, couples become one half of a whole... new people move in, everything changes. A widower, he lives a solitary existence, his adult children being scattered around the country. It's just Bernard and his ghosts in the house... his wife and the lover he lost. Every day seems to be the same, leaving him to look forward to the one day a week he runs errands and gets to interact with other people. One day, a neighbor is murdered. An old woman named Adel, she was supposed to die peacefully in her sleep... not bludgeoned in her kitchen. Who would do such a thing?

Maddie is a 15 year old waitress, missing her mother who simply took off one day. Her best friend recently left town as well, leaving her with only her younger brother and father. Lonely and restless, she has a hard time dealing with the abandonment. When someone she's grown fond of is arrested for murder, she's shaken to her core. He couldn't have possibly done it, right?

Amy is an artist who hasn't been creating. She's had huge health issues and turned to the bottle while pushing away her husband. He left town to work, but she's unsure if he'll ever come back... and she's not sure if she wants her too. Upon learning of the murder, she can't stop thinking about it. She begins to create again... sketches and paintings of Adel, of her final moments, of the murderer.

A lovely read, even if it is dark at times. The characters are so fleshed out, you feel like you know them. It's a great character study with a mystery attached, and a nice quick read I managed to finish in only two sittings.

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Touchstone, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,850 reviews520 followers
April 20, 2018
In a Florida town a serial killer is murdering elderly women. This book is told from three separate points of view. Unfortunately, I was interested in only one of the three so most of the book was a waste of my time. Bernard and some of the other elderly residents band together to try to protect each other and, in the process, expand their lives. The Bernard story held my interest. Amy is a cancer survivor and artist who starts painting imagined renderings of the crime scenes. Her paintings attract the attention of a reporter and then the police. The Amy story is mostly tedious and then becomes extremely improbable. Maddie is a teenaged waitress with a cutting problem and frankly I have no idea what she was supposed to add to the book. And then the murders are suddenly solved because the killer is both insane and a moron. Everything in the book after the crimes are solved was really just awful. I don't think I would be interested in reading more by this author.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Jay.
505 reviews19 followers
November 9, 2017
I read an ARC of this book.

While I did read the entire book, I was hard pressed to find anything mysterious or thrilling about the story. Despite the presence of three murders and the eventual uncovering (by complete happenstance instead of someone actually seeking out the killer), this book was more about three people spending the majority of the book stuck in an endlessly repeating circle of regrets and self-recrimination.

For me, this is not what I would've chosen to read had I known that there was little in the way of actual mystery to be read in the story.
Profile Image for AnisaAnne.
115 reviews465 followers
February 11, 2018
You can also read my reviews of WP: https://anisabookreviews.wordpress.co...

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.
Profile Image for Touchstone Books.
36 reviews240 followers
December 5, 2017
The ***starred*** Publishers Weekly review said it best: "For fans of crime fiction wanting literary flair and emotional depth.” If you like your crime fiction with a ton of layers and heart, this is the book for you.
Profile Image for Mridula Gupta.
668 reviews172 followers
January 25, 2018
Old women are being murdered and no one has the faintest of the clue about who the murderer is. So all the old people in the town, who call themselves ‘The Originals’, team up to keep themselves safe and to identify the killer. In the meantime, Amy Unger gets disturbing visions about the murder and the murderer. For someone, who hasn’t finished a painting in three years, Amy finds there dreams extremely disturbing and decides to paint them.

With multiple deaths and multiple suspects, this story claims to be a thriller. Two third of the book goes perfectly well. There’s mystery, confused folks, scared folks etc. There is also a detailed description about each of the characters, their present, past and future, including their habits and affairs. For me, this novel passes more as a community book rather than a mystery. It’s very bland for my taste. The killer is unpredictably creepy and a surprise, because he is basically absent throughout. He suddenly appears out of nowhere, and hence the author fails at maintaining the thrill throughout the plot.

The only way this book wins for me is the bunch of old people, who are adorable at heart and trying so hard to be happy and forget the tragedies of their life. Also, the author’s need to justify every character and give them a happy ending is evident.

Overall, this was a family drama and murder mystery crossover, mildly entertaining and mostly confusing.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews388 followers
May 30, 2021
It was far from bad but the story just didn't grab me. It was well told and I liked the 3 person narratives. It wasn't a book for me but I would pick up something else by Lauren Doyle Owens in the future
Profile Image for Out of the Bex.
232 reviews122 followers
January 8, 2018
Wow. Less than 24 hours later and here I am, closing the last page of this book with a sense of immense satisfaction.

This mystery novel explores more than just whodunnit, but the often painful, complicated, yet beautiful experience of life itself with fantastically crafted characters. Characters so well influenced, in fact, I cared more for them than the answer to the plot’s mystery.

It’s a beautifully done debut with plenty of moments that will fill your heart and empty it again. More than a mystery novel. I wouldn’t change a thing.

To those curious, don’t go into this read expecting a thriller novel. While the writing is fast paced and unputdownable, I read it within 24 hours after all, it is not a thriller. It’s a story about people with a mystery included as a centering anchor.

I’d love to know what you think! Drop me a line here or on instagram @outofthebex
Profile Image for Searavens.
2 reviews
January 25, 2018
Absorbing...finished just a little over 24 hours after beginning. Beautiful writing, very believable characters and dialogue. Some other reviews seem to be rating it as a murder mystery but it's more of a thriller with women in jeopardy, a disturbing, violent killer on the loose...and sociological drama of aging, shifting neighborhoods, parental estrangement, and struggling marriages.
Profile Image for Kelsey.
160 reviews89 followers
January 20, 2018
Despite the serial killer, this suspense novel is actually an emotional, even sweet story with A Man Called Ove vibes. What has stayed with me is the way the elderly characters come together as a community during this tragedy. It's definitely a page-turner, but one with a ton of heart.
Profile Image for Miriam Moore.
24 reviews27 followers
August 3, 2020
This book is more of an emotional roller coaster than a thrill ride. Interesting characters with depth and heartbreaking back stories. There was a murder and a mystery but this book was more than just that. In under 300 pages this book is memorable and worth a read
Profile Image for Kara.
539 reviews168 followers
December 13, 2017
This book was honestly mediocre and all over the place. There were three POVs, and it was impossible to see how they would tie together in the end, and when they did, it was all haphazard and coincidental, and I just didn't understand the point of it all.

This book is forgettable. You can skip it.

I will say that the author paints a lovely, and at the same time, unsettling portrait of South Florida. She really captured the atmosphere and I appreciated it. But that's about it.

The POVs were an old man, a teenager, and a middle-aged woman, and they all read the same. That can happen with a debut novel, but I think perhaps the author tried to do too much and it just failed in its execution.

The Other Side of Everything is definitely readable, but I didn't particularly enjoy it, so I won't recommend it to others.
Profile Image for Joyce.
1,671 reviews33 followers
December 20, 2017
5 stars

This story is told from the points of view of three people: Bernard an elderly man, Maddie a teenager, and Amy.

An elderly woman named Adel Minor is beaten to death in her own home. The smoking remains of her supper alerted the neighborhood and the fire department to that fact that something was wrong.

Bernard White is an octogenarian widower who still talks to his wife. He mostly stays home except for Wednesdays when he ventures out to the dry cleaners and to go grocery shopping. When he runs into an old friend, he begins to reconnect with his old friends. The murder of Adel is the talk of the town of Seven Springs.

Maddie Lowe is a teenager and a waitress. Her mother has left the family and it has fallen upon Maddie to try to keep her family together. She misses her mother and wonders where she is and what she is doing. Maddie has a guilty secret. When interviewed by the police about Adel’s murder, she doesn’t tell them everything in order to protect her friend Charlie.

Amy Unger is an artist who has survived cancer. But she is not well emotionally. The murder of Adel has thrown her into a crisis. She finally takes up drawing again. She is in a frenzy as she reimagines Adel’s last day. She decides to clean up her abandoned studio and go to buy canvas and paints.

Angela Greene is the next elderly woman murdered in her home. The police begin their second investigation without making any headway in Adel’s murder. While talking over the situation with his friend Danny, Bernard suggests that they contact all of the “originals” as they call themselves. These were the original settlers of the small community. Not to start a vigilante group necessarily, just to talk things over. The Originals conceive an idea that those who want to should pair up so that they won’t be alone. They must ensure that their doors and windows are locked and not open the door to strangers.

When the police arrest a homeless man – the Charlie Amy was trying to protect – the little community is thrown into confusion. Charlie couldn’t be the killer. He was kind and harmless. What were the police doing? When another woman is killed, with Charlie still in jail, it is now clear that he didn’t do the murders. Charlie is released the next morning. Who is doing the killings?

Amy begins to draw and paint Adel’s attack and death. She becomes obsessed with it. Her paintings are the best she’s ever done. Maddie has a relationship. Bernard begins to become very attached to the woman he is staying with for her protection.

This novel is about loss, mistakes, hopelessness, memories both good and bad and hope. The three people who are the main characters are not really all that different. One elderly, one teenager and one middle-aged, but they are all tied together not just by the murders, but also by their seemingly different lifestyles.

The identity of the killer comes as somewhat of a surprise, but why they did it makes sense – sort of.

The book is very well written and plotted. The tension in the story increases and decreases as different things occur, but it is a gentle tension. The reader wonders who could be doing the killings and why. Ms. Owens creates an atmosphere of a small community rocked by the murders, yet as they strive to survive, they are disconnected. They finally gather together to protect and communicate with one another. It’s a beautiful story. The reader is there feeling what the individual narrators are feeling at that time. Very well done, Ms. Owens! I immediately went to Amazon to look for other books of hers.

I want to that NetGalley and Touchstone for forwarding to me a copy of this most remarkable book to read and enjoy.
Profile Image for Gare Billings.
176 reviews112 followers
January 28, 2018
The Other Side of Everything is a harrowing, sharp, and poignant debut novel centering around a serial killer in Florida. Told from the perspective of three very different characters, the reader gets a phenomenally deep look into how violence and fear can affect those of all different backgrounds and ages.

I was absolutely astonished with how quickly I found myself immersed in this novel. Usually, going into a suspense or a thriller, I am immediately drawn to the red herrings and always trying to guess who it is and why. The thing I loved about this novel was that, although the novel does center around these murders, they are almost present in the background, but the main focus are our three main characters. I would consider this novel a tense and emotional character study on these three central characters and the changes their lives quickly take as a possible serial killer terrorizes their community.

I really enjoyed how different the perspectives were from one another, even down to the themes that ran through each page. One perspective is an emotional journey into love and loss, one is about finding yourself and recovery, while the other is a more adolescent view into fear and love. I couldn't get enough. With amazingly well written characters, a genius and unique plot, and an intense ending. this is one binge-worthy novel that is well crafted and addictive.

*Special thanks to Touchstone Books for providing me with this copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Catie.
1,334 reviews57 followers
January 28, 2018
Review copy provided by Touchstone Books - January 2018

Favorite Quotes:

“The beauty of the world will break your heart, and put it back together again.”
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,662 reviews26 followers
September 19, 2020
A murdered neighbor, and then another and another - all elderly widows. Amy is a woman who struggles to connect - with the world, her husband and her art. Maddie is a 15-year-old who is a self-harmer, whose mother disappeared years before. There is little compelling about these characters, and they seem hard to love. The writer seems oblivious to basic facts such as what happens when a 19-year-old has sex with a 15-year-old, and if a female has only had sex once and is pregnant, she does know how long she's been pregnant.

Still overall this was an "OK" story - after all I finished it. As with other audiobooks with older characters, I found the voices given to some of those characters very annoying, and stereotyped.
2.5 rounded up to 3.
Profile Image for Bob Brink.
Author 6 books13 followers
May 16, 2018
Though I’ve authored two murder mysteries – one, more of a legal thriller, awaiting a publisher – the murder fiction genre never has particularly attracted me. I don’t need to be frightened; the real world is so full of scary stuff that I have all I can handle.

However, the world of literature offers a trove of books that treat murder in literary fashion. I think back on one by Joyce Carol Oates maybe three decades ago (don’t recall the title) that had a guy shoving his wife through a sliding glass door in a moment of passion, killing her. The motives of the characters took precedence over the violence. One became immersed in the protagonists and antagonists more than in the action.

Now comes The Other Side of Everything, which fits neatly into that category. The author, Lauren Doyle Owens, adroitly unfurls the characters, infusing them with a reality that causes us to identify with them, much like we might grow to understand a new neighbor (for good or ill) as our association with herm (my gender-neutral pronoun) progresses.

Maddie is a quirky 15-year-old whose mother has left, unannounced, her husband, daughter and the girl’s younger brother. Owens uses the classic fiction writing dictum of showing rather than telling in getting us to fathom her. The author never spells out the pain Maddie is suffering. Instead, it becomes jarringly real when the teen begins cutting her thighs, later shoving a needle under a thumbnail, to inflict physical torture as a way of blotting out the emotional pain.

As for the violence, we are told about the murders of elderly women in the community, and given real descriptions of the surmised methods, but it’s all after the fact; we don’t get a blow-by-blow narration. The suspense is in wondering about the perpetrator, and what hiser (gender-neutral) motive is. Perhaps even more compelling is the tension over relationships, romantic and platonic, that develop between pairs of both young and old.

Owens, only in her 30s (but a cancer survivor), exhibits a remarkable capacity for empathy in realizing the feelings of persons generations apart. The book is a touching portrayal of the universality of the human experience.

A graduate of Florida International University’s MFA program, Owens has produced a stellar debut novel. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, encapsulating it thusly: “A tense, rich debut … (for) fans of crime fiction wanting literary flair and emotional depth.”

Owens is a novelist whose career is well-worth following.

Profile Image for The Blonde Bookworm.
298 reviews38 followers
January 23, 2018
The Other Side of Everything is a thought provoking literary journey disguised as a suspense novel, and I deeply loved this story from start to finish. The characters were intriguing and the story line was fast paced with just the right amount of suspense and thrill. I loved the fact that it had classic suspense vibes, but also took the reader along on a journey with the characters as they navigated life and loss.

The Other Side of Everything is definitely not your typical suspense novel. It has more emotional components than most thriller/suspense novels, but do NOT let that turn you away. It is beautifully written and I would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy suspense novels as well as general fiction. Even though this novel is one of my first reads of the year, I know it will be one I remember for the remaining 11 months!
Profile Image for Lisa.
137 reviews2 followers
December 23, 2017
I received an ARC of this title from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Eh. I can see why people would like this, but I don't think it's for everyone. It was certainly not suspenseful, just people living their lives in the aftermath of some horrific murders. The content description that their lives intertwine hardly feels accurate when only two of the three actually talk for more than running into each other, and even that doesn't occur until the end of the book. I don't think that the story has the depth of Megan Abbott's or even Laura Lippman's stories, so I don't think that comparison is justified either.
Profile Image for VickiLee.
997 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2020
While the plot of this novel pivots on the murder of elderly women in a comfortable urban neighborhood, I discovered that the deaths were secondary to the three main characters - a 15-year-old girl, a grieving artist separated from her husband, and an elderly gentleman who spends far too much time alone thinking about the past. These characters offer deep insights into what motivates them and offers the reader a feeling of comradeship with each of these troubled people. There is a sublimated feeling of something dangerous woven throughout the novel that keeps our nerves on edge, but we don’t really know what it is until near the end of the novel.There are no swooping helicopters or gun fights but a slow and consistent revelation of what motivates and drives certain individuals on their life paths.
Profile Image for Angela.
186 reviews3 followers
February 12, 2018
Somewhere in reading book reviews, I found a recommendation for The Other Side of Everything. I picked it up and thought it looked like a pleasant little mystery. It is much more than that. Lauren Doyle Owens has written a novel with fully developed characters that the reader becomes invested in. Multiple storylines come together in a satisfying ending (surprising to me).
The story is set in Florida among a deteriorating retirement community, but the characters encompass all generations. Their storylines are woven together in a sensitive and compelling track that answers questions about the past as well as the present.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Ms Owens.
125 reviews
September 25, 2017
I was pulled into this story. It is so much more than just a thriller. The story is told from three different perspectives that live in the same neighborhood where murders are happening. The main characters were very relate able and the writing is very compelling and flows easily. This is so much more than just a thriller!
865 reviews8 followers
December 11, 2017
I thought that this suspenseful, mystery read was well thought out where characters affected by a crime discovered the connection with their neighbors. I liked how it all came together, and it showed the emotional impact that an event takes on several individuals. Enjoyable and engaging read.
Profile Image for Brooke.
35 reviews
April 2, 2019
This is the kind of book that makes me think that even I could be a publish a book
13 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2019
A murder mystery without the whodunit, The Other Side of Everything is more of an emotional look at three people in different stages of their life. Bernard, a retired widower struggles to find his place in a world without his wife and the still complicated feelings he has for his old mistress. Amy struggles to find her place after cancer has repeatedly ravaged her body and her relationship with her husband is failing. Maddie is navigating the treacherous waters of being fifteen as well as struggling with the reality that one day her mother just vanished. The thread connecting them all together is a string of murders seemingly targeting the elderly of their Florida town.

The book starts off slow, like a lawnmower where you have to pull the string a few times, but once the motor gets going it roars. The book is less concerned with who is committing the murders and why which I appreciate. Too many murder mystery books focus too hard on being clever instead of telling a human story.

I could barely put down the book once I got started and that's always a good sign.
Profile Image for Cassidy Crowe.
262 reviews1 follower
March 20, 2021
This was a very good book! The killer was not even someone you would think twice about. I enjoyed the characters and their own individual stories that somehow all came together. It was a very steven king-esque story with the multiple story lines converging on one plot-all coming together through serial murders, that made me really appreciate the book. I enjoyed Maddie and Amy's the best though, and was very happy with the ending they both received. I was sad for Bernard though, even though he truly got what he deserved in a sense. Loses a star only because I wanted the killer to be more complex, it seems to me that it wasnt a fitting character to be the killer.
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