By My Side – Alice Peterson

By My Side_PB“One step can change everything… Cass Brooks wishes she could turn back time. She’d go back to that morning and retrace her steps. Her boyfriend, Sean, would still be with her. Her mother wouldn’t be nagging her to plan a new future when all she wants is her old life back. But when Ticket, the most loyal golden Labrador, bursts into Cass’s life, she dares to dream that she can be happy, that maybe she has a future after all? Charlie Bell is single. Why can’t he commit? Following his latest break up, he finds himself sitting next to a young woman called Cass on a flight to Colarado. She is unlike any woman he’s met before…”

The world is Cass Brooks’ oyster. She’s determined, vivacious, full of life and about to train to be a doctor. Nothing can stop her – or so she thinks, until she steps across the road and, in a split second, her life changes. Injured badly in a car accident, we fast-forward to a miserable, much diminished and Cass, who has been left paralysed from the waist down. Struggling to come to terms with her new wheelchair-bound existence and forced to watch her life slip away – she can’t train to be a doctor, her boyfriend has left her and she’s being taken care of by her mum and dad – things are very gloomy for Cass… Until a ray of light comes in the form of Ticket, an adorable Golden Retriever trained to help Cass go about her day-to-day life.

Suddenly, Cass’ future doesn’t look quite as bleak. Taking life back with both hands, she ventures on a trip to Colorado where she meets Charlie, a man who changes her life once again – but this time for the better. Moving in with him to his London flat gives Cass a whole new lease of life, and results in her getting a new job. However, her living situation and close proximity to Charlie leads to her developing feelings for her handsome young flatmate. She’s sure he feels exactly the way she does – until he brings home his new girlfriend…

By My Side is a touching, evocative story that charts the ups and downs of Cass’ life, the inspiring strength she faces her life-changing disability with and her ability to overcome. By turns bleak and heart-warming, Alice’s masterful blend of bitter-sweet makes for a humbling yet uplifting read. It’s reminiscent of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You – but told from the perspective of the patient, not the carer, it gives a unique and accessible insight into just what it’s like to be wheelchair-bound.

A sensitive, beautiful read about making the best of the hand that life has dealt you.

Many thanks to Quercus for the review copy.

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