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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
A memoir that will stir up your empathy from start to finish, The Other Side of Fear: A Backpacker's Memoir by Jenni Reavis is a deep, personal account of the author’s traumatic past that involves kidnapping and sexual assault. At the same time, it is also a story of hope as she demonstrates how she has managed to overcome the stigma and scars of such horrible episodes and how she was able to pick up the pieces for a new start. It takes a sizeable amount of courage to come out in the open and tell this kind of story. As the story begins with the author recounting how she got trapped in lockdown in a small town in Colombia due to the pandemic, the early parts of her book tell the story of how she developed a love for backpacking in South America, and how it eventually led to her harrowing experience.
Jenni Reavis gives meticulous attention to detail when it comes to narrating her sexual assault, and in a sense, the courage that she shows in writing about it is a form of healing, of closure, of confronting the nightmare—looking into its eye and saying that what doesn’t kill her makes her stronger. While the story also highlights the magnificent beauty of South America as a haven for backpackers, it is about courage and survival. The other interesting theme in this memoir is the responsibility of the judicial system and how we perceive rape victims. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you will recoil at reading The Other Side of Fear. At the same time, this memoir reveals a painful truth that both sexes already know, and it must be stopped.