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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review - Both Sides by Paul Stawski

Book Review
Both Sides
by Paul E Stawski

Imagine if you were in a tragic accident – unable to move or speak but otherwise cognizant of everything around you. Imagine hearing doctors deciding your fate without you having a voice in the outcome.

Alex is a 16-year-old girl who finds herself in that exact situation in Both Sides, a novel that begins when – while on a class field trip – Alex and another girl, Sandra, end up in a horrible accident.

If the doctors act quickly, they may be able to save one body…and one brain. Amid the confusion and uncertainty, we hear everything that’s going on in Alex’s mind – from her initial disbelief to her quips about the absurdity of it all to her realization that she may have to go through the rest of her life living in the body of a girl she couldn’t stand. If she survives.

Both Sides tackles these issues and more. Within its pages every reader will find her own answers and discover, in the end, a story of courage and a girl who never before existed.

Award-winning author Paul E. Stawski captures the minute-by-minute struggles of a 16-year-old girl whose world is suddenly turned upside down in Both Sides. Radical brain surgery is the only option. Time is running out and Alex’s mind is racing: will she still be the same person when she comes out on the other side?

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About the Author

Paul E. Stawski won the Highlights for Children fiction contest for his short story, Code Red, a science-fiction story about a little girl who has to make a very grown-up decision. As a child, Paul was the subject of Newbery-Award winning author Lois Lenski's We Live in the North. Then, as an adult, he taught at an all-girls' high school before becoming a full-time writer. Both Sides is his first novel, he is currently writing the second book in the Both Sides series, Taking Sides due to be released January 2014. He lives in Troy, Michigan, with his wife and two cats.

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Our Book Review
When I read the book description I just knew that this would be a book I would enjoy to read due to the unusual story line.  I am pleased to say the book exceeded my expectations and I was gripped from page one.

Two girls, Alex and Sandra, from the opposite end of the social spectrum are involved in a tragic accident on a school trip, one girl is left brain damaged the other is left with a shattered and broken body.  Do the surgeons leave both girls to die or do they transplant the healthy brain from one girl into the healthy body of the other.  This is where the numerous 'what if' questions started as I asked myself throughout the book how I would feel, who would this patient now be, who would now be her parents, how this would affect family and friends and that's even before the whole ethics of the issue.

An absolutely fabulous read from such a talented author as he brings the whole story to you through the eyes of Alex as she lay both in her coma as well as her recovery efforts. You could feel Alex's sheer panic and terror as she is aware of all the goings on around her, feeling like she doesn't exist as everyone else makes decisions on her behalf.  The feel of disgust being inside a body that she cannot bear to be in, her life that she took for granted will never be the same again.

As you read the book it becomes very clear that a lot of research has been done by the author for a story that will inevitably bring questions, discussions and debates to anyone who reads it as well as opening it up to those around them.  I do have to include that I would absolutely love to take the virtual therapy that Alex undertook, to escape from the world into another place, how wonderful that would be.

A highly recommended thought provoking read as you feel as you are there besides Alex as she struggles to come to terms with all that she has lost and what she now has become.  I cannot wait to read the next book to see how the author will carry the story on for Alex and all those affected by the tragedy.

Our Rating

Taking Sides is the second book in the Both Sides series. In BOTH SIDES, Alex grappled with the idea of her brain being transplanted into Sandra’s brain-dead body. In TAKING SIDES, she struggles with her new reality, starting with the ride home from the hospital and the ensuing media circus. She’s now a celebrity who literally comes face-to-face with her new identity every time she looks in the mirror – and every time someone else looks at her. How will her friends react? How will Sandra’s? And what about their classmates and their parents? With everyone taking sides, Alex begins to wonder: is anyone on her side?

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Sharon x

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  1. I Agree with you - this story is gripping! The story alone will captivate and the writing will lock you in until the conclusion of the story!

  2. I had a lot of "what ifs" too. It definitely makes you think! I can't wait to continue the journey to see how it all works out!


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