One step can change everything…
Cass Brooks loves her job, her boyfriend Sean, her life. Until, leaving home one morning, distracted and hungover, she steps into the path of a truck.
When she wakes up, she can’t walk. And suddenly all her hopes and dreams, the plans she’d made with Sean, the future she thought she’d have, seem out of her reach.
But then fate intervenes again. Cass meets Ticket, a loyal golden Labrador who refuses to leave her side. And on a flight to Colorado, she sits next to Charlie, who believes he can show her a life full of possibilities, if only she’ll let him.
Cass wants her life back the way it was. Charlie knows this cannot be. Yet a future beckons all the same...
Having read both of Alice Peterson's previous books, Monday to Friday Man and Ten Years On, I was really looking forward to reading By My Side ever since I'd first heard about it even though it sounded like it was going to be an emotional read.
Cass had a promising career as a doctor, a loving boyfriend Sean and her whole life ahead of her but one carefree moment changes her life forever when she's distracted and steps out into the road.
The story then picks up five months later after her release from hospital with Cass living back at home but struggling to adapt to life as a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Struggling with depression and feeling like she has nothing to live for, her parents try to convince her she can do anything that she wants to if she puts her mind to it. When her mother tricks her into going to a Canine Partners centre, a spark is ignited and she falls in love with a puppy, Ticket, who is being trained as an assistance dog and soon they are inseperable and the future looks a lot brighter.
I loved the camaraderie that Cass finds with the other members of the Canine Partners group particularly Dom and Guy and how supportive they were for each other through the highs and the lows. And as for Ticket, I think my heart literally melted when reading about him especially their first meeting and his devotion to Cass, and having seen a similar relationship with a local woman here and her dog I can completely understand how strong the bonds are between owner and dog.
The story flowed effortlessly and I found myself gripped right from the first page and loved seeing Cass blossom as she adapted to her new life. I really don't know how Alice is going to top this as I'm sure this is a book that I will read time and time again.
This was one of those books that was heartbreaking but truly inspirational at the same time, I literally could not put it down and read it in a day and I can honestly say that I think this book could be in my top two this year, it's certainly number one at the moment so will take something special to beat it.
I couldn't write this review without mentioning the two real-life organisations that Alice wrote about, Canine Partners (http://www.caninepartners.org.uk) and Back Up (http://www.backuptrust.org.uk), who both do amazing work.
I'd like to thank Margot at Quercus for sending me a copy of this book to review. Amazon links: Paperback or Kindle