My summer reading has been slower than many other years, but luckily the books I have read have been fantastic.
Side by Side is Anita Kushwaha's debut novel; she has a novella that's been published and a second novel to be published in 2020. I'm hoping this is just the start of many books from her.
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?
I love character driven novels. I did find this one a little hard to get into at first, for whatever reason (I've already started working on school stuff, which makes it hard to concentrate at this point in time). But, after a slow start, I did really enjoy this book.
The subject matter isn't happy, but I also seem to gravitate towards books with a certain amount of grief and sorrow. I felt like Kavita did a really good job of portraying what someone feels like after a loved one commits suicide. Her ability to write about this accurately was one of the strongest points in this book to me. I liked how despite the fact that there is such sorrow, Kushwaha also leaves readers with a little hope as well.
The support group and the presence of Hawthorne and the relationship that develops between Kavita and Hawthorne should at least be mentioned as another positive aspect to this novel, as Kushwaha is able to find someone who can relate to what she is going through.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for my review. All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.