Review: The Other Me (Suzanne van Rooyen) 2

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.

The Other Me book cover

As I read this book, I realised that it is a book like no other. The book is truly South African, and captures the culture of South African teenagers very well. But the thing I found so fascinating was how it deals with real human issues so well. Not just drama issues such as crime and violence that we hear about all the time in South Africa, but real human emotions – the ones we don’t easily share with others.

The book is written from two points of view, Gabriel’s and Treasa’s. This adds so much value to the book as not only do we find out what they say to each other, but we know the thoughts and emotions behind each character. From each of their perspectives, as their relationship grows together, we see how they are continuously insecure, worrying how the other will view them if they knew their secrets. Gabriel carries with him a history, and he is convinced that Treasa will reject him if she found out. Treasa is burdened with many confusing and complex thoughts, where she essentially does not feel like she fits into this world, or into her body. She is afraid that Gabriel will run away from her as she views herself as an “alien in a human’s body”. The ironic thing is, they both think each other is perfect, even with their faults.

Through my life, I have also suffered from being insecure. I have worried what people would think of me if they knew I was gay, or they would judge me for being shy or socially awkward. But thing book reminded me that sometimes other people actually see the good in us, not the bad, even if they are afraid to say it.

My favourite quote from this book is “…but I do get wanting to be who you truly are and not the person others think you should be“, where Gabriel does not understand some of Treasa’s choices, but does understand that she needs to make them for her to be who she is. We should all strive to be who we are, rather than to be who we think others think we should be.

Overall, this is an inspiring book, and well worth the read.

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