cover image The Other Side: A Memoir

The Other Side: A Memoir

Lacy M. Johnson. Tin House, $15.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-935639-83-1

This riveting narrative of a young woman's kidnapping and rape at the hands of a former boyfriend moves fluently between dissociation and healing. Johnson, an attractive young woman from a rural Midwestern family, worked briefly as a model in New York before attending college. While in school, she became infatuated with her Spanish teacher, a Venezuelan-American twice her age, who was worldly and traveled but also had some serious emotional damage from his first marriage. She grew to both love and fear the man; he exhibited a startlingly cruel and violent streak, striking her and even killing their sick cat. With her fragile sense of self, she craved validation, despite his ill treatment. "I want him to love me," she declares, and "I'll do anything to stay with him." The two eventually broke up, and on the night of July 5, 2000, he stalked her and tricked her into coming to his apartment, where he raped her. Johnson's narrative is her attempt to claim the memory. She returns to the police record, and distances herself from her own body by having successive relationships and getting tattoos. Her evocation of emotional mayhem underscores the violent power play that can be present in unequal pairings. (July)