Kavita Gupta is a woman in transition. When her troubled older brother, Sunil, disappears, she does everything in her power to find him, convinced that she can save him. Ten days later, the police arrive at her door to inform her that Sunil's body has been found. Her world is devastated. She finds herself in crisis mode, trying to keep the pieces of her life from falling apart even more. As she tries to cope with her loss, the support system around her begins to unravel. Her parents' uneasy marriage seems more precarious. Her health is failing as her unprocessed trauma develops into more sinister conditions. Her marriage suffers as her husband is unable to relate to her loss. She bears her burden alone, but after hitting her lowest point, she knows she needs to find a better way of coping. Desperate for connection, she reaches out to a bereavement group, where she meets Hawthorn, a free-spirited young man with whom she discovers a deep connection through pain. After being blindsided by a devastating marital betrayal, she wonders if a fresh start is possible in the wake of tragedy. Will she escape her problems and start over? Or will she face the challenges of rebuilding the life she already has? Side by Side is a story about loss, growth and the search for meaning in the wake of tragedy, illuminated through one woman's journey from harm to care.
"Anita Kushwaha's book Side by Side is a compelling and beautifully written novel that draws you from page to page with lyrical, brave and heart-wrenching prose. Vivid and powerful imagery make it feel as though you are alongside the characters sipping ginger tea, savouring curry and samosas, strolling the foggy streets of London and hiking the autumnal trails of Gatineau Park. The novel also explores the intense relationship between siblings and the aching and longing for that brother or sister after they are gone. How does one go on after a tragedy? With humanity and empathy, Kushwaha dares us to reach into the deepest recesses of the mind as we stand 'side by side' with Kavita who shares her grief with us. Throughout the novel, Kushwaha shows herself to be a writer with incredible storytelling gifts. A must-read for anyone going through or wanting to understand the process of bereavement. "
-- Sonia Saikaley, author of A Samurai's Pink House and The Lebanese Dishwasher
"If a family member is killed in a car accident, is shot or stabbed or poisoned, or succumbs to cancer, we can blame the other driver, the murderer, carcinogens or whatever we wish to blame. But whom do we blame when our brother kills himself? Side by Side takes us on a journey into the soul of an immigrant Indian family through the dead man's sister, Kavita, as she struggles with not only her own grief but that of her parents. Her marriage teeters on the edge of its own death, too, as she attempts to work her way through the stages of grief ten times over. Anita Kushwaha has the enviable ability to bring characters to life, to invite the reader to become part of Kavita's family, to grieve, to hope and cry and smile along with them while any cultural veil that might hang between the reader and the family dissolves into butterflies."
--Sherrill Wark, author of Graven Images and The Kesk8a Series