The Other Me
Review: Karen Watkins
Truth be told we all have another side. In Watson’s debut novel she uses the main character, Lolly, to deal with childhood trauma, displacement, loneliness, ambition and a society where men hold the power and women are mostly excluded from it.
Lolly is born in Grassy Park into a world with a mother who is almost always absent and a philandering father. She decides to take things into her own hands but makes a terrible mistake.
This light-skinned girl is adopted by Sue and her family who live in Newlands.
Dealing with the loss of loved ones, Lolly steels herself to not make friends or share her life. But when she does she is a very good friend until the other Lolly steps in and then all hell breaks loose.
She deserves better, doesn’t she? After all, nothing that goes wrong in Lolly’s life is her fault. Or is it? And if it might be she will shut it out.
Misguided and self-destructive, she meets Sedick while studying at UCT.
He is studying chemical engineering and she is majoring in economics.
With zero interest in falling in love, he surprisingly fulfils her standards and is drop-dead gorgeous.
He is also clever and ambitious with dreams of one day living in Constantia.
Sedick offers her a sense of safety and belonging and an amazing mind-blowing sex life.
They marry, move into a flat in Rondebosch and live the high life with weekends away while keeping up with fashions and trends.
Having shed her coloured upbringing, Lolly meets his parents and sister.
They are the archetypal Cape Flats family living by a code of close ties. Lolly plays along and discovers that she is pregnant. But is she?
The Other Me is fast-paced, lively and with convincing characters who come, go and come again at Lolly’s bidding.
It will have you mesmerised and wanting more; to see the next mess she gets into and more importantly, how she gets out of it.
Lolly is resourceful, funny and captivating but also vulnerable, lonely and rejects violence.
Laugh at her, squeal and squirm, Lolly is a detestable character but in the best possible way.
It’s a delightful binge-worthy read.
As for the divisive ending, it’s perfect. I can’t wait to see what Watson has in store for us next.
Watson is a feminist researcher specialising in analysing public policy and service delivery.