The Other Side of the Pillow. Zane. 2014. Atria Books. 288 pages. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.]
Zane’s newest release is best described an exploration of common pitfalls of relationships. It’s part romance, part self-help, and all parts interesting. Through its characters, Zane highlights the havoc caused by infidelity, mistrust, poor communication, chance events, and myriad other problems that plague today’s relationships. The book revolves around Tevin’s courtship if Jemistry. This story is told from the perspectives of both Jemistry and Tevin, and the reader is introduced to their closest friends and family, all of whose relationships have varied impacts on how the two approach their own relationship.
Jemistry is bitter. She’s the quintessential scorned woman, one who cannot and will not forget the emotional and physical hurt she’s felt at the hands of her previous lovers. When she comes across Tevin after she very publicly expresses her bitterness, she’s challenged to see beyond her past. Tevin sees Jemistry as a challenge, not in a competitive sense, but in that he hopes to be the one man who doesn’t let her down and hurt her like she expects. Zane uses them and their circle to explore how one’s reactions to their experiences can have very real and detrimental or positive impacts as they move forward. Every character finds himself encountering realistic situations with honest, human reactions. In some ways, this novel feels like a cautionary tale without being preachy. The reader is challenged to see both sides of the coin and really reflect on how relationships evolve or dissolve as a result of actions.
Zane has presented a novel that is absolutely engaging. I was able to read this over the course of two days and never felt bored or that I was reading for the sake of finishing. The story is in first-person perspective and from both Tevin and Jemistry’s views. The alternating ten or more chapter chunks allows you to really get into each character’s mode of thinking and understand their motives more clearly. While Zane has garnered a reputation for extremely explicit erotic scenes, she has shown that she can present a solid story. Her trademark scenes are here, but are clearly not the focus; they exist to augment the story and are still well-written.
I was a bit surprised by the story itself after seeing the cover and title. I typically find that titles and covers are easily related to the story, but I didn’t find that connection as simple here. One can assume that Tevin is pictured on the cover. But given that the story really focuses on Jemistry, it felt a bit odd that she wasn’t pictured on the front cover. This will likely have a more powerful impact with those reading a hard-copy of the book, but could easily be lost on those using e-readers. The title is also a stretch. My best assumption is that it alludes to the dueling perspectives from which the story is told. That being said, it’s not a major detraction from my enjoyment of the book. Zane’s newest is a solid effort and I’d definitely recommend that other’s read it.