Other Side of Darkness

Other Side of Darkness

by Melody Carlson


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400070817
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/16/2008
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Best-selling author Melody Carlson has written more than two hundred books for children, teens, and adults, including On This Day, Finding Alice, and several series: Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor, TrueColors, and Notes from a Spinning Planet. Melody has two grown sons and lives in central Oregon with her husband, where they enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping, biking, and hanging out with their chocolate lab.

Read an Excerpt


That’s not good enough.”

I scratch the mosquito bite on the back of my arm and adjust my thick-lens glasses to look up at my mom. Her eyes feel like two sharp prongs probing right into my forehead–as if she can read my thoughts. And maybe she can.

“Why not?” I say quietly, then glance away, wishing I’d kept quiet.

“Look at that carpet.” Her index finger points down like an arrow at the new orange shag carpeting that goes wall to wall in our small, wood-paneled family room.

I look but see nothing other than carpet. Still, I know better than to state this as fact.

“Pull the vacuum back and forth in straight lines. Back and forth, back and forth, like this.” She uses her hands to show me, as if I don’t fully understand the concept of back and forth.

I stand with my shoulders hunched forward, staring dumbly down at the sea of orange at my feet.

“If you did it right, Ruth, I would see neat, even rows about six inches wide. Now, start in the corner by the fireplace, and do it again.”

I frown and, although I know it’s not only futile but stupid, say, “But it’s clean, Mom. I vacuumed everything in here. The carpet is already clean.

The family room becomes very quiet now. With the Hoover off, I can hear the sounds of kids playing outside, enjoying their Saturday freedom like normal ten-year-olds, not that I mistake myself for normal. And then I hear the familiar hissing sound of my mother as she blows air like a jet stream through her nostrils.

“Ruth Anne!”
She bends down and peers at me, those flaming blue eyes just inches from my own. “Are you talking back to me?”

I glance down at my faded blue Keds and mutely shake my head. I do not want to be slapped. Without looking at her, I turn the vacuum cleaner on again and drag its bulky, cavernous body over to the wall by the fireplace next to the big picture window, although I don’t look out. I don’t want to see my friends playing. Even worse, I don’t want them to see me.

As I vacuum the rug all over again, I try not to think about my older sister, Lynette, the pretty one. I try not to imagine her at her ballet lesson just now, looking sleek and lovely in her black leotard and tights, doing a graceful arabesque with one hand on the barre, glimpsing her long straight back in the gleaming mirror behind her.

“You are not made for ballet,” my mother had told me two years ago when I pleaded with her for lessons. “You’re much too stout, and your arms and legs are too short and stubby. You take after your father’s side of the family.”

And I can’t disagree with her when I examine myself in the bathroom mirror. With my dark hair of untamable curls and these muddy brown eyes, I definitely do not look like I belong in this particular family of blue-eyed, long-limbed blonds. Well, my mother isn’t a true blonde. She helps it out with her monthly bottle of Lady Clairol, although no one is allowed to mention this fact, ever, and she takes care to purchase her “contraband” in a drugstore in the neighboring town where no one knows her. But she lets it be known that Lynette and my little brother, Jonathan, both get their silky blond locks from her side of the family–a respectable mix of English and Scandinavian.

Jonathan is four years younger than I am, but unlike me, he is not an accident. Plus he is a much-wanted boy, named after my father, Jonathan Francis Reynolds. Once while playing hide-and-seek at church, I was hiding behind the drapes in the fellowship room when I overheard my mother talking to a lady friend. The other woman commented on how Lynette and I look nothing alike. “Oh, Ruth wasn’t planned, you know,” my mother said in a hushed tone, causing my ears to perk up and actually listen for a change. “Good grief. My little Lynette was still in diapers, and suddenly I was pregnant again! Can you imagine? Well, I was completely devastated by the–”

Just then Jonathan raced over and threw himself around my mother’s knees, complaining that he’d been left out of the childish game.

“Now, this one”–my mother spoke with pride as she ruffled his pale hair–“he was no mistake.”

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Other Side of Darkness 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
SharonALavy More than 1 year ago
As a person who belonged to a cult for twelve years, this is a story that must be told. My church and situation were different and for years after I left it I could not see that it was really a cult. But just as the situation in THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS, the church members were considered more important than family. I left the church I was born and raised in to follow "The One True Church." When my husband tried to keep me home, I left him and my children "For God." After all, I must obey God rather than man. Our family got back together on the promise that my husband would not keep me from my church. After twelve years the Lord brought me out of that church and back under the spiritual leadership of my husband. The Other Side Of Darkness is a novel that serves as a warning. Do your church leaders lead and keep you in the church by fear? Do they talk down other churches? And your other family members and friends?
bookalover89 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Very realistic and compelling novel.
dasuzuki on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I would really rate this more of 2.5-3 stars.I can¿t say I enjoyed this story but I did find it deeply disturbing and had to keep reading to find out what eventually happens to Ruth, her husband and their children. While reading I kept looking to see how many pages were left because it was really starting to get to me how scary this woman was becoming and the thought that she might turn her two impressionable daughters into the same type of women. As I read it was so hard to believe that someone could become that obsessed and crazy but never even realize it. I guess a crazy person never thinks they are crazy and I suppose Ruth¿s thoughts are probably similar to those of people who get caught up in religious cults. I suppose not being deeply religious I can¿t believe that people could go so far in their beliefs and be so harsh on other people.I am not one that usually goes for these types of depressing sort of books which accounts for my lower rating but if you really want to see what might go on inside the heads of people who join cults this is an interesting book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Ruth loves her husband and children, but fears for them. She doesn¿t want them tricked by the machinations of the evil devil. She prays for them and does everything to prevent Satan from tricking any of her loved ons into sinning.------------ However her husband Rick resents how much money and time she spends on the Valley Bridge Fellowship Church and it¿s New Life Christian School. Her children Mary and Sarah resent her pushing religion down their throat as they have enough at school. Worse her hero Pastor Glenn has been fired by the congregation either because they were fooled by Satan or jealous of how good he is. Ruth feels her world imploding as the more she prays the more things go bad and the more they go bad the more she prays especially when she follows her idol Pastor Glenn to his new church her family refuses to go with her.------------- This is a refreshing very intense inspirational Christian tale in which the main character suffers from a serious mental illness, obsessive compulsive disorder. Ruth is unique protagonist as the more time she gives, the more troubled she becomes. Interestingly several deeply religious individuals selfishly and knowingly take advantage of her time and money. Although seeing demons seems unnecessary, Melody Carlson leaves the audience with a deep poignant thriller in which accepting psychological treatment is just one tool provided by God to help his flock with free will. ------------ Harriet Klausner
MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
About the book: Once again, I have kept the demons at bay.As a wife and mother, Ruth knows her prayers are crucial to her family's spiritual welfare. She stands between her precious children and the evil one, doing battle in prayer. She can't afford to be careless. Thankfully, she has powerful allies: Pastor Glenn, New Life Christian School where her daughters Mary and Sarah attend, and the inner circle at Arbor Drive Fellowship. They all reinforce her careful nurturance of her children. If only her husband, Rick, understood that. He's exasperated about the money Ruth keeps spending for the church and school. Doesn't he see that these are their best defenses in shielding their children from the dangers of the world? But the forces that threaten Ruth's faith, her family--her very life--are not the ones she expects. Ruth doesn't realize that her heartfelt desire to obey God is mingled with dangerous currents of OCD--Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her own strategies for protecting her family may be the very thing that tears them apart. My review: The Other Side of Darkness is a powerful, but dark novel about a woman battling with mental illness. You as the reader are in her head, so you see the world the way she sees it. That makes the book a hard read because who wants to feel like they are going crazy? But it is good in other ways because it helps give the reader insight into people who suffer from severe OCD. The troubling thing about this story is that it sweeps you away. And while that shows the author did a great job with characterization, you also start to feel the frustration and all that goes with it. Also, there are a lot of people who believe similar things who are Christians. How do you sort that all out? The main character seemed to be a Christian and she knew the Scriptures, but then she was influenced by her OCD. I admired that Ruth prayed a lot, but then things took a dark turn and though she kept praying she only got sicker. So it makes you wonder if she was seeking the Lord with her whole heart, which it appears that she was, why did the cultish group gain so much power over her mind? I think it went back to her childhood issues. They made her vulnerable to compliments and needing to feel wanted, which this weird church was good at making her believe. As the story progressed it almost seemed like rather than casting demons out, Ruth was bringing them home with her! Now I am not a person who believes there is a demon under every bush, but there is such a thing as opression. It was true that her church friends gave more attention to the enemy than the Savior, and that was a bad thing. But it still bothers me that she was so sincere, yet it was wrapped up in her illness. So how does one know whether they are hearing from God, or just losing their mind? In this story Ruth spent most of her time listening to other people tell her about what the Bible said so they shaped her thinking. It seemed like whenever the Bible was read apart from the 'cultish church' it worked to bring health and life to Ruth's family. The bottom line is that this was an unsettling, but powerful read. I didn't feel much hope, however, or I'd rank it higher. In real life there are not always happy endings, but in this case that could've been elaborated on more so the reader isn't left feeling bummed despite the good things that happened. That's the tricky part about writing a story with dark themes. The light has to shine brighter so the reader feels hope. And yes, there is some hope offered, but I'm not sure it's enough, because I never got the sense that Ruth ever really heard from God by the story's end. Hope that makes sense. Read it for yourself and then you decide.