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4.8 out of 5 stars173
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 August 2013
I am not totally sure if my review can describe how much I loved this book.
Alice Peterson is author that I always wanted to try, I have her "Ten Year On" on my pile by the bed, it's just that there are so many books to read and there is so little time. But anyway, when "By My side" arrived at my door I was more than happy to start it.
To be totally honest, I didn't know what this book is going to be about. I haven't read the blurb before I requested it, I just knew I want to read it. After reading the summary I have though oh - oh. And I was right. I have never thought that I can produce so many tears. Especially at the beginning of the book, when the accident happened, when Cass was trying to adapt to her new life, with Cass's parents and brother trying to cope with this new situation. And then with the dogs.
Oh my God. A personal note here. I am a world - known dog lover. And animals lover. I can't even watch Disney cartoons like Bambi or "King Lion" because I cry like crazy. Forget "Marley and Me", no way can I watch such films. I am also a dog breeder and I am deeply interested in every dog activity and I know how loyal, brave and lovely dogs can be. And so I could see all what Peterson's has described in her book, all the feelings, every tail - wagging, every move and dog - laugh. It was so real, so fantastic and so beautiful that I just cried crocodile tears reading it. Ticket and his doggy friends are individuals in this book, each of them is a Character and they are lovely described.
Cass I loved from the very beginning. I couldn't help but put myself in her situation and ask questions like "What if it happened to me". I am not sure if I could cope like she has. I think I would be more Guy - like, even with the same end. Cass is strong, lovely, friendly, loyal and funny, she is a wonderful character in this book and it was actually a joy - ride to see how she is coping. She was so intelligent and I loved the dialogues in this book, they were sharp and clever and witty.
Every character is this book was so important. I loved Cass's parent as well, especially her mother, she was amazing woman. Cass's new friends, every one of them had his or her own story and they were all so, so sad but nevertheless they were trying to start a new life. Charlie... There were moments that I wanted to shake him, bang his head on the wall or slap him but more often I wanted to clap on his back and tell him that he's great. In my opinion, he was.
What is so sad about this book is the fact that it could actually happen to all of us, and that there are people like Cass and her friends around us, and only when we read books like this we realise this.
Although this book cope with very hard subjects it is written in a wonderful, light and easy way. There are maybe too many details about disabilities and some organisations but they were really vital to this book and it didn't put me off at all. The chapters were short and engaging, all was fantastically researched and I enjoyed every word of it. It has opened my eyes and let me see some things differently. I would go that far and say it is a must - read for all.

I received a copy of this book from publisher in exchange for a review.
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I had heard so many amazing things about Alice Peterson's books, so I was very excited to start By My Side.

Cass Brooks is enjoying her life, she is a medical student and spends her days happily with her boyfriend Sean. But one day, her carefree life comes to an abrupt halt after Cass steps out into the path of a truck. Suddenly life has changed for Tess - She can't walk, and now her hopes and reams seem out of reach as Cass is uncertain of what lies ahead. But soon, something she least expects comes into her life to help her on her way...

Words cannot describe how much I loved this book! As soon as I started I was hooked! Alice Peterson has created a truly PERFECT story and it was better than anything I could have imagined.

Some of you may not know that I'm physically disabled. I have a brain tumour, and among my many health problems it's caused hemiplegia down my right hand side, meaning I'm paralysed on my right side, so both my right arm and leg have very little function and mobility. I find every single daily task difficult, some days I struggle to get out of bed or dress myself, and I need help to do almost everything in my life, I only have one good arm and as hard as I try it doesn't get me very far with things such as cutting food, opening things, even making a cup of tea or drink sometimes feels like the equivalent of climbing a mountain. And I also can't walk very far at all so like Cass I have a wheelchair that I have to use every time I go out.

The reason I'm bringing all of this up is because being in my position, I could relate to Cass possibly more than I've ever related to any other character in my entire life. I genuinely felt her frustrations at the beginning of the book as she realised just how much her life had changed and began to realise all the things she could no longer do, as well as her new dependency on others. I warmed to Cass straight away, I really identified with her in her new life and I wanted more than anything for her to be happy and progress throughout the story. I got behind Cass and I was very much rooting for her all the way.

The other characters are fantastically written. Dom and Guy in particular were favourites of mine. Cass meets Dom and Guy while she is in hospital after the accident, and they are in similar positions to that of Cass. I liked Dom and Guy's personalities - Dom was a jokey guy who really tried to look on the bright side of things and he made me smile. Guy, like Cass, was struggling to adjust and I enjoyed the friendship that the three of them had, I loved how supportive and understanding they were of each other.

Ticket is GORGEOUS! I fell in love with him straight away - he is such a bundle of happiness! I especially loved reading about Ticket's growing relationship with Cass, I liked the strength and love that they gave to each other, and they had the most beautiful friendship I've ever read about. I felt I learnt a lot in this story, although I was aware of the work that dogs do and how they help disabled people, I was thrilled to read this story and discover more about what charities such as Canine Partners do and how much of a help they are to others!

I especially worry about stories with disability in them, I worry that it won't be true to life and I understand it can be a tough topic to get right. But I needn't have worried at all...Alice Peterson has excelled in her storytelling, I feel she really `got' Cass and her disability. The story flowed beautifully and was told in a way that gripped me and touched me at the same time. I became very emotionally involved in the story...it was like an emotional rollercoaster. I laughed at the humourous moments and at Cass and Ticket's first meeting as I thought that it was wonderful! I also cried a lot during this book ass well, there are many moments that will touch your heart and I admit there were times I had a few tears and one moment where I was full on sobbing.

By My Side is one of the most special stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I can't put it any better than that. All I can say is that By My Side is the best book I have read this year, and it is a must read!
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on 21 June 2013
From the day the postman delivered Alice Peterson's By My Side, and I read the press release that came with it, I knew it was going to be a book I mentally needed to be strong for. I knew half of it would be the thoughts in my head and thoughts I am yet to start to deal with. I was right in my thoughts and I was moved greatly by not only the story, but the compassion that had gone into everything about the book. The words, the research, the honesty. It covers many aspects of disability including severe depression that some people faced with newer conditions struggle greatly with.

I'm not writing a proper review for this book, I don't need too. I'm sure the synopsis above is more than enough to draw in a huge crowd. I just wanted you all to know that you will love it. You may cry and feel sorry for Cass and her friends. You may laugh and think good on you girl too. All I ask is that you take the time after reading this fabulous book to see how you treat people with disabilities. You will see what I mean in some references throughout the book. (No spoilers here sorry)

I will forever be grateful for authors like Alice Peterson. Opening up taboo subjects and showing the world what life is like for some. Yes, it may be fiction, but there are people out there in them said conditions. I take my hat of to you Alice, you're a superstar in my eyes.
Please treat yourself and buy this book, not only do you get a wonderful heart wrenching story, you get a take of love and romance, it's funny and overall fabulous. If that's not enough for you, you also get to see life through somebody else's eyes.

It's absolutely brilliant.
There's not enough stars for this book really, it's worth so much more than the lousy 5/5 I can offer it.
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on 18 November 2012
I loved this book!! I can't recommend it enough!

The characters were very believable, as were the situations they coped with and "Ticket" shows just how much an assistance dog can change someone's life!
You can't help but fall in love with "Ticket" and you quickly learn to care about all the characters as they have been so wonderfully created.

Sometimes funny and sometimes sad, this is a book everyone will enjoy! Hopefully it will also help people understand more about what its like living with a disability as well as encourage those who are disabled to do what the main character "Cass" does and make the most of their lives regardless!
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on 10 January 2013
What can I say? I loved this book!!

The characters are believable, the story line unpredictable and I had to stop at times because I could not see through the tears!!!

Can't wait to read my next Alice Peterson...
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on 20 January 2013
This is the 3rd of Alice Petersons books i have read and was not disappointed. It was my favourite of the 3. By my side is a heart warming story of Cass who takes you on the journey of her spinal trauma and how it affected her life. It is very well written and very accurate! I shed a tear on more than one occassion but also laughed. Through the brilliance of this authors writing, i felt i knew all the characters well and lived every moment with Cass. Inspiring and encouraging, a beautiful read.
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on 23 March 2013
This is a story of what it is like to suddenly find yourself paralysed and wheelchair bound and to fall in love just as passionately but much more inconveniently than any able-bodied young person. All the characters are believable and come together by a variety of routes. The writing enables you to feel their frustrations and anger as well as sharing their joys and sadness. I feel I learned a lot as I became more empathic with the characters.
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on 29 September 2015
What a great book! I would definitely recommend reading it (and already have to several of my reader friends) - I didn't want to put it down once I got into it. The characters are so loveable, not just Cass and Charlie but many of the others too. I was sad when I reached the end of the book! The book had me laughing but also in tears at times - the sign of a great book in my eyes!
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on 25 November 2012
After reading Alice Peterson's previous books I am a big fan and couldn't wait to read this one. Cass's life changes beyond recognition after an accident means she has to learn to live a new life in a wheelchair. With the help of Ticket, her amazing, loyal and lovable assistance dog, Cass meets wonderful new friends, and conquers new and exciting challenges. It is very touchingly written with insight, depth and humour. You'll be rooting for her all the way. Without giving too much of the story away I think this book has it all. It tugs at the heart strings and is an emotional rollercoaster ride so, stock up on the tissues because you'll need them, I cried buckets! I completely fell in love with Ticket, and with Charlie too. Alice Peterson's best yet!
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on 7 August 2013
I'd already read two other Alice Peterson books before this and enjoyed both, but this one kind of blew me away. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I bought it, but it wasn't this. Note to chicklit readers - this is not a chicklit read - this is so much more. It's a love story, but a story of overcoming all the odds and making the best of what you've got; coping with grief and teaching others how to do so too; learning how to give something back and how to laugh at your misfortune and ultimately beat it. It is painfully honest. I could imagine what would have happened if I or anyone I know were in this situation. I particularly liked the character Guy and thought the highs and lows were very well portrayed. I also cried at one section of the book (and I don't generally cry at books) - I was on a train at the time - most inconvenient! Any novel which can pull at your heartstrings in this way is worth its salt and it tugged at the old heartstrings in so many different ways. I loved Charlie's family and their straight-talking. I wanted to give them a serious dressing down. How dare they? I wanted to shake Charlie and tell him to get his act together. And I loved the assistant dogs and all the people who got assistant dogs. It made such a difference to their lives and I could totally envisage how that would be the case. I also became aware of viewing people in wheelchairs differently as I walked through Glasgow after reading part of the book. Not that I have been insensitive in the past, just unaware. For that alone, I am grateful for having read this book.
If I had any slightly critical comment to make, and it's very slight, it would be that some people might find the amount of detail regarding disabilities and the various organisations offputting, but I loved the fact that the novel had obviously been so well researched.
It's 5 stars from me. It's my favourite book of the year so far and I simply can't recommend it highly enough.
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