Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 7 to 12
Twelve-year-old Liam finds a dead body along the shore at his grandfather's cottage. He can't erase what he's seen and can't focus on anything else, not even the upcoming opportunity of a lifetime to try out for an elite soccer team. Liam believes there is more to the girl's story than her "accidental death" and decides to investigate.
When Liam visits his grandfather, living in palliative care, things go from bad to worse. As they watch Germany's 2014 World Cup soccer games together, his grandfather, a German World War II veteran, reveals stories about his past — stories a Jewish Canadian kid doesn't want to hear. Angry and overwhelmed, Liam is swept up in a history that may just help him solve the girl's death — and make sense of his own world again.
About the author
HEATHER CAMLOT is the author of the nonfiction What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? and the Skipping Stones Honor Award novels The Other Side and Clutch, the latter of which was named among Kirkus’s Best Middle-Grade Historical Fiction. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has written, edited and translated for various publications, including Quill & Quire, Owl, TV Guide Canada and Style at Home. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
"What might have been a simple whodunit becomes a powerful exploration of family secrets, trauma, and grief, enlivened by the exhilarating furor of soccer. Liam's sharp, ruminative narration fully immerses readers in his journey. School days and soccer games carry the same emotional intensity as visits to his grandfather or intrusive flashbacks to finding the dead girl in a painfully accurate depiction of post-traumatic stress. Strong family bonds create some of the novel's most moving scenes, as when Liam struggles to reconcile hatred for his grandfather's actions during the war with love for the person who taught him everything. Many characters, most of whom are White, are painstakingly sketched, with complex inner lives. However, Liam's Black friend Alessia is more wise mentor than fully rounded tween. Although the story explores the complexity of individual actions in relation to the Holocaust, Alessia praises Liam's present-day colorblindness, and his passivity in the face of overt racism is insufficiently explored.
Powerful if uneven."
— Kirkus Starred Review
"Because Heather Camlot gives her young adult audience a mystery story which has overtones of both family drama and historical novel, this book will have wide appeal. . . Murder and suspense, coping with trauma and death, understanding the relevance of history? this novel combines important themes and an interesting cast of characters in a well-written and thought-provoking story.
— CM Magazine
"An emotional and riveting story that explores what it's like to have experienced trauma in one's life. . . I would highly recommend this novel."
— Children's Book News
"The Other Side is a valuable book, with much to offer in its examination of responsibility, community, family, and the intersection of history with the present.
— Quill & Quire
"The story is so realistic, the characters so fully realized and the scenes so vivid.
Rating: 5 out of 5"
— Youth Services Book Review
"With The Other Side, author Heather Camlot accomplishes again what she did with her debut, Clutch: a story brimming with humour, heart, and a unique historical context. In this case, we are plunged into an engaging murder mystery, and readers will be left guessing until the final reveal. But this murder mystery coincides with a fascinating exploration of what family history means, how it affects our relationships, and how we can bridge the gap between the people we love and what they may or may not have done in the past. And, of course, Camlot also provides an extremely adept and insightful look into PTSD and how it affects our everyday lives. With themes of self-identity, historical ambiguity, and representation, this a book that seeks to challenge readers. Teachers, this a book that is going to spark much-needed conversations."
— Wesley King, New York Times bestselling author of The Wizenard Series
"Liam Reimold loves soccer, but in this simmering mystery he's also his own kind of wrestler: he struggles to reconcile the past and present, right and wrong, life and death. We're by Liam's side from start to finish as Heather Camlot artfully reveals how a young boy's vulnerability is his strength, and we quietly rejoice when his warring emotions find an enduring peace. Like the memories at the heart of this loving family portrait, Camlot's fine writing lingers."
— Emil Sher, screenwriter and author of Young Man With Camera
Other titles by Heather Camlot
Becoming Bionic and Other Ways Science Is Making Us Super
The Prisoner and the Writer
True Stories of the Determination to Learn
I Can't Do What?
Strange Laws and Rules from Around the World
My Delicious Garden
What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?
True Stories of Imagination and Courage