Review: Side by Side
Side by Side is first and foremost a story about loss and how it can completely fracture a human being. It takes a life and turns it into something completely different than what it was before. It’s never the same, but eventually, you find beauty in the broken bits.
While the story was really a beautiful one, I have to admit that it got difficult to read at times. First, there’s the tragedy of Kavita losing her brother to suicide. What comes next is a lot of falling apart, and it’s this part of the story that gets the most air time in the book. It’s a long slog, and you wonder if you, along with Kavita, will ever make it to the other side. In this way, the book is pretty depressing and you’ll want to find some puppies to pet after you’ve read portions of it.
Does that make it a bad book? Definitely not! I think the author, Anita Kushwaha, is incredibly expressive and writes with her heart on her sleeve. Many of her descriptions of how Kavita feels in the depths of her grief were so visceral – sad but so beautiful.
Overall, if you can deal with hard content like suicide and intense grief, I’d recommend this book. That said, you’ll need a strong constitution to get through the section of the book where nothing seems like it’ll ever be bright again, because that section is really most of the book.
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Monday, July 15th: What Is That Book About
• Paperback: 300 pages
• Publisher: Inanna Publications (November 15, 2018)
Kavita Gupta is a woman in transition. When her troubled older brother, Sunil, disappears, she does everything in her power to find him, convinced that she can save him. Ten days later, the police arrive at her door to inform her that Sunil’s body has been found. Her world is devastated. She finds herself in crisis mode, trying to keep the pieces of her life from falling apart even more. As she tries to cope with her loss, the support system around her begins to unravel. Her parents’ uneasy marriage seems more precarious. Her health is failing as her unprocessed trauma develops into more sinister conditions. Her marriage suffers as her husband is unable to relate to her loss. She bears her burden alone, but after hitting her lowest point, she knows she needs to find a better way of coping. Desperate for connection, she reaches out to a bereavement group, where she meets Hawthorn, a free-spirited young man with whom she discovers a deep connection through pain. After being blindsided by a devastating marital betrayal, she wonders if a fresh start is possible in the wake of tragedy. Will she escape her problems and start over? Or will she face the challenges of rebuilding the life she already has? Side by Side is a story about loss, growth and the search for meaning in the wake of tragedy, illuminated through one woman’s journey from harm to care.
About Anita Kushwaha
Anita Kushwaha grew up in Aylmer, Quebec. Her road to publication included a fulfilling career in academia, where she studied human geography at Carleton University and earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. She is also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers creative writing program. Her first novel, Side by Side, won an Independent Publisher Book Awards Silver Medal for Multicultural Fiction in 2019. She is also the author of a novella, The Escape Artist. Her second novel, Caught in a Lie, will be published in January 2020 by HarperCollins Canada. She lives in Ottawa.