Title: The Other Me
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: 19 Dec, 2013
Length: 216 pages
Genre: YA, LGBT, contemporary
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak.
As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.
But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.
"Do you know what it's like to live every day feeling trapped, feeling cheated by God and biology? Nobody asked me if I wanted this body." I grab at my boobs, wishing I could tear them right off. "Every day-" My voice cracks, and a new onslaught of tears threatens to wreck my complexion. "Every day, I wish I'd never been born, because then I wouldn't have to live this lie."
You know how sometimes you can start reading a book, and despite it being a fantastic and engrossing read, it can feel like you've read it before because of the subject matter? Well, The Other Me is a fantastic read. It is a book that completely drags you into the story and it is so completely original and unique that you will never once feel like it's been done before. And that's because I've never read a book based around this subject before.
At some stage in our lives we all experiment with the way we look, the clothes we wear and how we wear our hair. Imagine doing all of that because the body that you are in feels so completely foreign to you. Fifteen year old Treasa Prescott feels like an alien. An alien living in the body of a girl. Then she meets Gabriel du Preez and she is instantly drawn to him. She thinks he's perfect. But Gabriel is fighting some pretty heavy demons of his own and he believes that he doesn't deserve someone like Treasa. But he can't seem to get her out of his head. When their secrets are revealed how will they both deal with the very real and deep feelings that they have both developed?
He smiles, and not even the sunshine parting the clouds or the rainbow hanging in the sky comes close to the radiance of his expression.
I love books written in dual point of view. The ultimate way to get to know both main characters on a deeper level. Being able to get a true feeling for what they are experiencing allows a much greater connection and understanding of not just the characters, but also the story. And The Other Me allowed me, as the reader to feel both characters pain. I didn't expect to be so taken in by this story and it's characters. But the things that they were both dealing with pulled at my heart. It ached for them. Going through your teenage years can be hard at the best of times, but Treasa and Gabriel are dealing with so much on top of the norm.
I loved Suzanne Van Rooyen's writing style. It made reading her words so easy. Her characters came across as incredibly real. Add all of that into the uniqueness of the stories subject and The Other Me turned out to be a book that I absolutely loved. So much in fact that I would love to read more of these characters. I would love to see how Treasa deals with all the changes she will be going through. I would love to see the deeper development of the friendship between Gabriel and Tristan. And I would love to be there as Gabriel and his Dad repair their relationship.
My only negative, if you could even call it that, was that I felt the end wrapped up too quickly. But aside from that, if you are looking for a Young Adult contemporary, with a storyline that hasn't been done before, then I couldn't recommend The Other Me highly enough.
4.5/5 Original Stars.
Five years ago
today, my mom died, and it seems I’m the only one in the family who
remembers. Even after all this time, I feel her absence, the ache physical,
kind of how I imagine an amputee must feel after losing a leg. You think
the missing bit is still a part of you, and it comes as a shock every time
you realize it’s gone. Only I lost an internal part of me no one can see is
even missing. Only I feel the loss, feel that huge gaping wound that might
suck me right down into the abyss, if I let it. Mom probably wouldn’t want
me chucking myself out of the car or getting stoned with Dirk or shagging
a girl like Karla. She’d like a girl like Treasa, though. Mom was a singer
“You know, she’s been dead for years, and I still half expect her to
waltz into my bedroom in the mornings with a cup of condensed milk
coffee.” I watch the family with the dog and the Frisbee, watch the mother
pick the little kid up when he bails into the grass.
“Man, that was the best coffee ever,” Dirk says.
Last time I had condensed milk coffee was the morning before Mom
died. If only I’d known it was the last cup she’d ever make me, I would’ve
savored it and not left half behind, too busy playing piano to pay proper
Damn Klippies, now I’m getting all dronkverdriet. I backhand
unwanted moisture from my eyes, and the snatch of a melody spins loose
from my imagination. It’s simple yet beautiful, music in a minor. If only I
had my notebook with me. I’ll probably forget the tune by the time I get
home, even though I try to catch it, humming the notes under my breath in
the hopes of remembering. This’ll be the first theme of my sonata. Finally,
I have something to work with. Maybe this is how all those great
composers did it; maybe I should do this more often: get wasted, get
morbid, rip the scabs off old wounds, and let myself bleed all over the
Suzanne is an author and peanut-butter addict from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance and music to middle-schoolers or playing in the snow with her shiba inu. She is rep'd by Jordy Albertof the Booker Albert Agency.