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4.7 out of 5 stars
By My Side
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 21 December 2016
I just finished reading this last night and enjoyed it thoroughly, and would definitely recommend to other people as one to read.

By My Side is a wonderful eye-opener of a story about a group of people (one main, but we do have other characters who play big roles in the same situation) who, through no fault of their own, have ended in hospital with paralysis of varying levels. Our lead female was catching a wallet thrown out the window to her from her boyfriend when she dashes into the road to get it and then ----

Cass' parents move her in with them and adjust their home for ramps and bars and levers and stair climbers but she can't seem to lift herself out of the mental rut she's been caught in, or find the energy to get out of bed. Understandably this change causes stress, tension and frustration in the home and puts everyone's lives on hold for a little bit.

Alice has done wonderful research on this topic leading from the diagnosis of paralysis, and then to my favourite part - the Canine Partners company who train dogs to assist disabled people. Trust me, if you like dogs, you will love reading this book.

It's a real stinger that makes you look up and appreciate the good in your life around you - from love and loss, to grief and death, to happiness and laughter, Alice Peterson has managed to include it all whilst still keeping the realistic story going. Will definitely be looking up the Back Up Trust also after reading about their volunteer opportunities!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 October 2017
I loved this warm and gentle story about Cassandra Brooks and what happened to her after the moment that literally changed her life forever. She was at university training to be a doctor, bright as a button and in love with her doting boyfriend Sean. She held her future in her hand and in her heart, it sparkled and she was full of joy and expectation with the promise of a full and happy life ahead of her. Then in a heart-stopping flash her life as she knew it was cruelly taken away from her. Her world seemed smaller and absolutely everything seemed diminished and truly terrifying. She became severely depressed and could not see a future in which she could achieve worthwhile goals and happiness.
Months later and back to living in her family home, she reflected about the intervening months. They felt relentless. She felt useless. What did the future hold for her? Her family were fully supporting her and surrounding her with love, but could she ever dare to dream of an independent life again? Would she ever meet her soul mate? What could she do with her life? She felt daunted. She couldn’t see a future. But that was before a gentle and loving golden Labrador called Ticket became her loyal and loving live-in companion and gradually her life woke up. He was a gift given of love: a lifesaver.
I have never read any of Alice Peterson’s novels before this one, but it was really worth the wait, ands what’s more she has a bulging backlist for me to explore. Her storytelling is seamless, her storylines expertly crafted and thoughtful and her characters are so beautifully developed. I loved them all. She writes with charm, humour and grace. This is a story about friendship, family, trust and love. It is filled with hope and promises for Cass’s future and is written with compassion and empathy. It is meticulously researched with invaluable information adding to the depth of the story. It’s a true gem of a novel.
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on 18 July 2017
I bought this a while ago, but never got around to reading it. When I finally started it, I really couldn't think why I had selected it. It certainly didn't seem my usual read. The story line was really captivating once I got into it. I shed a few tears and couldn't put it down. It was a very interesting read and I'm glad that I read it. I would definitely recommend it.
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on 25 September 2017
I can't wax lyrical enough about this book. By far my favourite this year now. What a refreshing change for the lead character to have a disability. Every character was likeable and slotted into the storyline perfectly. For once, I felt the author either had researched the subjects extremely well or had first hand knowledge about what she was writing about. The descriptions and narrative felt like you were reading someone's diary rather than being told a story. I couldn't put this book down and have immediately moved onto another book by Alice Peterson. I particularly liked the fact that parts of the story weren't long winded and drawn out. It was straight to the point and flowed beautifully. Cass as a main character was someone you felt you could connect with even if you have never suffered the same situation. It takes a special kind of writer to have that effect. Big fat bravo :)
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on 9 January 2015
After reading One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson, I found that I could not stop thinking about the author's other books. I wanted to read them ALL, in one go, at the same time. I was absolutely bowled over by Alice's staggering story-telling abilities and just couldn't wait to get started on another book by the fabulous lady! I found, after rummaging through my mountain of a to-read pile, that I actually had a copy of Ten Years On by Alice Peterson (which I still haven't managed to read), and I also ordered By My Side straight from Amazon after falling in love with blurb. Sadly, the poor beautiful paperback became a bit lost within the book kingdom that is my bedroom, but finally, just a few days ago, I was able to mark it as #currentlyreading, and now I fear that my life will never be the same again.

Not only was By My Side a touching tale of learning to live and love again, but to me, it also felt like a lesson to be learnt. Not in a "shut your mouth and listen to me" kind of way, but in a "Never take what you have for granted" kind of way. Within By My Side, I was introduced to something that, and it shames me to say this, I'd never known or heard of before reading this book, and I was absolutely blown away by what I learnt from the pages. Alice's heroine, Cass Brooks, suffers a life-changing incident, and is left in a wheelchair and with her life no longer structured in the same way that it had been before. On a drive through the countryside one afternoon with her mother, Cass comes across a charity called Canine Partners, who specialise in training dogs to become assistants to people with disabilities. This is where Ticket, Cass's loyal partner, comes into the story, and wow. Just wow. This is also where I had my mind blown and couldn't believe what I was reading. These dogs, raised from puppies and trained with some of the most unbelievable skills, are real. Absolutely real! I was astounded as Cass's story progressed, and Ticket would bring her wheelchair towards her or switch the lights off. Alice really brought the entire subject to light for me, made me understand and realise that this actually happens in our world, and I felt as if I'd been living under a rock for the past God knows how many years! There is obviously a strong emphasis on disability in By My Side, what with Cass's accident, and I was fascinated with the medical details and how Cass managed to overcome the emotions and began to move forward. I tried, repeatedly, whilst reading, to picture myself in Cass's shoes, but no matter how hard I tried, I knew I was never going to be able to even get close to the real thing. Alice's writing was, as usual, so beautiful and, quite simply, real. She dealt with the themes in the book gracefully, meaning they weren't too difficult to read, but still had that powerful effect in making me hold my breath at all of the right moments. There's a something about Alice's writing that makes me gulp, but at the same time, makes me want to dig deeper and deeper. I'm nervous yet fascinated, does that make sense? Ticket, the stunning golden Labrador who appears to bound into Cass's life at just the right moment, completely stole my heart away at the very first mention. I've read about fictional animals plenty of times before, but I don't think any of them have ever caught my attention the way good old Ticket did. Not only does he help Cass with domestic things, but he brings her back to life. Cass begins to smile, and laugh, and venture out, all things that were once scary suddenly seeming easier with her furry companion by her side. I cannot put into mere words how extraordinary it was to witness this reawakening in Cass. Where there was once a lifeless look in her eyes, Ticket sparks a fire and suddenly, they're glistening again. It was absolutely stunning, breath-takingly so, and I could happily read it again and again and again.

Cass, from the moment I met her, was someone who I knew was going to become special to me. Not only because of her accident, but because I wanted her to live again. Desperately! I wanted to see her come back to life, to travel, to fall in love, to live. At the very beginning of the book, an air of normalcy hit me as soon as I began to read, but wasting no time, Alice shook things up almost immediately, and I kinda' sat there thinking, "Wait, WHAT?!?!" I was hooked right away, and I knew then that there was no way I'd be able to step away from the book. I needed to know what was going to happen to Cass almost as much as I needed my next breath of air to breathe! I was equally shocked and startled, wondering what on earth would happen to her next. Whatever Cass felt, I felt, too, and it was remarkable how quickly I grew to love her not only as a character, but as a real friend. There were many times within the story where we were given a truly insightful peep into Cass's thoughts and feelings, and one thing that broke my heart each time it was mentioned was that Cass believed people would only ever see the wheelchair, and not her as a person. There were moments when it felt as if her disability annoyed or caused people to get frustrated with the disruption to their day, particularly in one scene where Cass was unable to get up the steps into a building where she was due to have a job interview, and I was so angry on Cass's behalf. I could have climbed right into the book and screamed my head off at the receptionist, arghhhh! I adored Cass. Absolutely adored her. I felt like protecting her from all of the rude people in the world, because quite frankly, they were not half the person that she was.

I cannot get over the sheer brilliance of By My Side by Alice Peterson. It was a beautiful, uplifting tale that will remain with me for a very, very long time. I felt like I was on a journey with Cass, going through the ups and downs right alongside her as she fought her way to independence. Ticket will always be remembered by me, not only for his amazing skills, but for the way he brought a light back into Cass's world when she felt like she'd been plunged into darkness. All of the circumstances, the characters, the situations that arose; in the end, moulded together into one hell of a story. I cannot rate or recommend this book enough, it made me realise how damn lucky I am, but also made me realise that we truly cannot waste a single day of our lives. In just a single second, everything that you ever thought you'd known could change, so treasure it.

Becca's Books is rating By My Side by Alice Peterson with five scrummy cupcakes! Only the highest rating from me. I am in love with this author's style and effortless talent in provoking emotions from even those deepest, darkest places. This story will touch your heart, I promise!
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on 18 May 2017
Really refreshing to see a main character who has a disability. She was someone I could relate to although I was born with my disability, as many issues still apply. I felt that the book was extremely well researched and an enjoyable story which you could enjoy whether you had experience of disability issues or not, especially if you're a dog lover.
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on 14 February 2015
I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time and I’ve seen lots of great things about Alice’s novels throughout the blogosphere over the years and a few weeks ago I finally got myself a copy and was extremely eager to get reading. I love dogs – I have a dog who I couldn’t live without – so this book instantly appealed to me. I also have to mention how utterly gorgeous the cover is!

After Cass is in a terrible accident where she gets hit by a truck and gets a spinal chord injury which means she’ll be in a wheelchair, unable to walk for the rest of her life, she begins to lose faith in herself and her worth. Until her mum forces her out of the house one day and they “stumble” across a training centre for disability dogs. It’s there she meets Ticket for the first time and a bond forms instantly. In the following months, Cass rebuilds her life and strength and although she’s fallen in love with Charlie, the volunteer who helps her out on a skiing course and her new flatmate, Cass’s future is finally looking up – all thanks to Ticket.

Lets get straight to it – I loved this book. I completely devoured it and got so caught up in Cass’s life. It was beautifully written and flowed effortlessly through the story. Cass was a fantastic main character – her attitude, struggles and emotions are very real and I love how at no point does she claim to be brave or have it all “figured out” because she doesn’t and she’s not afraid to admit it and I admire that. However you can obviously tell how courageous she is and is trying to be by going skiing, moving out and getting a job – despite her disability and I did find it extremely inspiring and uplifting joining Cass while she over-comes her obstacles. I think all of us – disability or not – could take something away from Cass’s bravery.

I absolutely loved the dog element in this book and it definitely wouldn’t have been the same without it. Like I said, I have a dog and I know how much they mean to their owners. They are outstanding creatures who have so much potential and disability dogs (and their trainers) deserve so much credit for they give people their lust for life back and that is demonstrated wonderfully in this book – not only in Cass and Ticket but in all the other disabled people Cass meets on her journey who have applied for a dog.

There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about this beautiful, beautiful book. It made me laugh, smile, cry and feel undoubtedly grateful for my life, my health and most definitely my dog. It has a very strong message that whatever you’re faced with in life, whatever the God’s of fate throw at you, there is always someone or something that will help you through – and it could even be a 4 legged furry friend with a waggling tail.
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on 28 November 2012
Since I read Monday To Friday Man by Alice Peterson last year, she's become one of those authors whose books I REALLY look forward to. Her writing style is so easy to read, she has a dog and writes about dogs which automatically makes her amazing, and I love her characters. I read her newest novel Ten Years On just a couple of months ago and I loved it. I devoured it in hours whilst waiting to go to work one day. So I was completely and utterly chuffed when I saw Alice had a new book up for pre-order on Amazon called By My Side. It's currently only available in Kindle format (a paperback release will follow, though, fear not!), and I purchased it as soon as it become available, and it was a really, really good read.

By My Side is a novel that will put chills up any twenty-something. Or, anyone, period. But as a 22-year-old myself, just like Cass, the idea of ending up paralysed is terrifying. Utterly terrifying. Much like Cass, at the beginning, I wouldn't be able to cope. I don't think I'd have had the strength of character like Cass to be able to get on with life. It would break me, I think. I take my legs for granted, I admit, it's not as if I particularly like exercising or walking or anything, but I need my legs, y'know? I have massive respect for people who, like Cass, find themselves in a situation they shouldn't necessarily be in and just get on with it. I know that just because you're in a wheelchair your life doesn't have to end, absolutely, I just don't think it would be something I could cope with and I found it both sad and uplifting how Cass dealt with her injury. I admired her massively. She's a much better person than I think I would be in that situation.

Yet again, Alice Peterson has written a warm and engaging read. You don't come across many disabled heroines (in fact, I'd say of the 700+ books I've read, I have NEVER come across a disabled heroine) and Cass was just awesome. You could really feel for her as she struggles with her new life. At 22, it seems like the worst thing imaginable to end up in a wheelchair, but what I learned from the novel is that it isn't, at all, and I loved how Cass eventually clawed her way to independence. I loved her fight, her spark, her drive, even when she finds herself unable to get off a train due to very unhelpful staff (which made me SO angry because I am 100% positive that that has happened to someone, somewhere, every single day) she still manages to push forward. Most of all, I loved Ticket. I love any dog in any fiction novel, but oh Ticket! Ticket is just immense. Ticket is AWESOME. Ticket does things you wouldn't expect dogs to do and he's just mint. I loved the whole Canine Partners aspect of the novel, it was so, so well written and I just love that there's a charity out there that does that for people in wheelchairs, it is just something else. No one can write dogs like Peterson, no one!

The novel isn't all happiness, though. Cass's friends, Guy and Dominic who are also in wheelchairs, particularly Guy, struggle with being in a wheelchair (sort of how I would, I think) and I just knew something bad was going to happen. I had a very, very bad feeling and it had me in tears. Despite knowing what was going to occur, it still came as a massive surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed By My Side. The romance part of it wasn't to my cup of tea mostly because I never knew where it was going and I wasn't entirely convinced by how it ended, I much preferred reading about Cass and Ticket. I'd really recommend the book, it's a fabulous read and it also makes you think about how you would react in Cass's situation, it makes you appreciate the life you have a little bit more. I can't wait to see what Alice writes next. She's a brilliant writer, and I just love her books.
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on 18 April 2017
First started reading it and thought I want to read this but it's going to be sad. Alice gives you a real insight into specific life changing situations. This story is very real and shows amazing strength of character. It gave me some idea of what people have to go through and how ignorant we can be and take so much for granted.
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on 7 August 2013
By My Side is a truly inspirational book. The story itself was a delight to read, and the characters soon became real. Add to that an adorable, clever dog, and you have the perfect recipe for a winner. I had never heard of the two organisations that feature in the book, and I was amazed at the services that they offer. I had decided quite early on what ending I was hoping for and I eagerly turned each page hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed. The ending could have gone either way, and along the journey there were many highs and lows, making me happy and sad. I was enjoying reading this book so much that I tried to read it slowly to make it last, but I found I couldn't put it down and was so disappointed when I'd finished it.

The book is magical - a true gift of emotions. Reading it has enriched my life and I'll certainly be reading more from this author.
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