I knew from the first couple of chapters that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this novel.
Mercy was a character I felt a connection with immediately, I think reading books that deal with issues such as grief, anxiety and other mental health issues are important because we can realise we are not the only ones struggling with these issues. Mercy hasn’t left her house for nearly two years due to her anxiety taking over her life. We don’t know what happened to start with that led to anxiety disorder taking over her life, but as we travel along with Mercy in her little old van with her little Dachshund Wasabi, she slowly lets herself think about what transpired, how it has affected her life, and slowly allows herself to open up to the people she meets along the way.
Having made my own unplanned road trip from Queensland and down the centre of Australia then across to Perth, I loved travelling with Mercy on her trip in the opposite direction up the Stuart Highway. I also remember stopping at various shops along the way picking up things I had forgotten or didn’t think I’d need, along with having no esky let alone a fridge, and a camp stove and one saucepan, I definitely understood her challenges. Travelling alone and trying NOT to worry about where to camp each night and was it safe, I’m lucky I didn’t have the level of anxiety that Mercy did.
This was a story of awakening, of learning who she was and what she was capable of but most important, it was a journey of healing. I felt a great deal of compassion for Mercy, both because of her debilitating anxiety and because of what she had gone through. I really appreciated her journey, though completely spontaneous, unthought out and due to another trauma, the burning down of her house, the only safe place she’s had for two years, this journey, to The Other Side, was exactly what she needed.
I loved the characters she met along the way, the Grey Nomads travelling in their caravans and various 4WD’s, travelling for all sorts of reasons, many to feel they are still alive. I liked Scottish Andy who was running away in his own way from his ex-wife’s new marriage. The connection he had with Mercy made a big impact on her over the week of bumping into him along the way and I think this helped them both in being able to look towards the future.
Kim Lock has done a great job of portraying Mercy and her anxiety and the traumas that have lead to her removal of herself from everything in her life. This was a novel I didn’t want to put down until the very end, and even then I hoped there was more.
Thank you to #TheBookStack and Harlequin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.