Yarbrough, Shannon L. “The Other Side of What”, XLibris, 2003.
Fate or Coincidence?
“The Other Side of What” by Shannon Yarbrough is one of those books that keep you guessing. Matthew, the main character, harbors a secret, and he thinks that is something special but he soon realizes that everyone else also has some sort of secret. As you are drawn into Matthew’s world, you begin to realize that here is a book that shows what good gay fiction is.
Matthew, in an effort to hide his past, leaves his small home town in the South and moves to the big city—Memphis, Tennessee. There he meets Jacob and the two quickly become friends. Matthew, even with his great charm, seems to be unable to tell the truth about anything, not just to others but to himself as well. His secret could possibly destroy his relationships with his friends as well as with his brother. He thinks that life in Memphis will make everything easier for him but he soon realizes that he must own up to himself and questions the choices he has made. As he questions himself, the reader also questions himself and when the conclusion is reached, truth is confronted head on in this exciting first novel.
Yarbrough has written a gay love story which has you turning pages as fast as you can. It looks at the issue of truth and makes you wonder if life is simply a series of coincidences or whether everything happens for a reason. The intrigue is deep and the tension constantly climbs. The characters are beautifully drawn and the story is quite powerful. Issues of fate, love and friendship as well as past memories are the themes as Matthew wrestles with who he really is. The very fact that the reader has to guess so much is what keeps interest high.
There are a lot of people who attempt to write a first book and do not succeed. Yarbrough has the gift that enables him to grab us by the collar and take us on a journey that is not easily forgotten. Being from the South, he uses many of the colloquialisms of the region and incorporates them into the story and the author’s sense of place is what endeared me to the book. It is a fast read but that does not mean it will be forgotten quickly. Instead it may make you question yourself the next time you want to hide behind a bit of a fib.