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TLC Review: Side by Side by Anita Kushwaha

Title: Side by Side
Author: Anita Kushwaha
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 300
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)Canada and the UK

FTC Disclosure: I was given this book for TLC Book Review

Summary (from the back of the book): 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.


Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Chapters/Indigo

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebook, and Instagram

Review: The premise of this book is a good one: family drama, taking place on multiple countries, and siblings. But, the first half didn't grab me the way I had hoped. Maybe that's because the pain of the main character is something I (luckily) haven't experienced. But that suggests that I can't empathize, which isn't true. 

But, then Kavita attended a bereavement group and I think that's when the novel came into its own. The relationship between Hawthorne and Kavita seemed real and important; finding someone that can help her through her grief and recovery was well done and believable. I liked the second part of the book much more than the first part. Maybe that's because it was more hopeful.

I do think the book does a great job of showing the anguish of surviving a loved one's suicide. I have a number of fringe friends/acquaintances and students who have committed suicide and it definitely feels like there is something we all should have known, seen, or been able to do to stop it from happening. But, it really is about that person, not the survivors and that's a difficult thing to remember. Kavita needed to figure that out for herself.

I really liked the ending few pages of the book. Nothing is fixed or perfect, but there is hope.

Challenges for which this counts: 
Review Tour:
Monday, July 1st: Lit and Life
Tuesday, July 2nd: Literary Quicksand
Wednesday, July 3rd: Instagram: @simplykelina
Thursday, July 4th: Helen’s Book Blog
Friday, July 5th: Instagram: @megsbookclub
Monday, July 8th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, July 9th: Instagram: @pieladybooks
Wednesday, July 10th: Instagram: @readingwithmere
Thursday, July 11th: Tina Says…
Friday, July 12th: Instagram: @libraryinprogress
Monday, July 15th: What Is That Book About

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