Monday, June 11, 2018

Side by Side by Jenni L Walsh

Side by Side by Jenni L Walsh
Release Date - June 5, 2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Texas: 1931. It’s the height of the Great Depression, and Bonnie is miles from Clyde. He’s locked up, and she’s left waiting, their dreams of a life together dwindling every day.

When Clyde returns from prison damaged and distant, unable to keep a job, and dogged by the cops, Bonnie knows the law will soon come for him. But there’s only one road forward for her.

If the world won't give them their American Dream, they'll just have to take it.
The story of Bonnie and Clyde is infamous. Everyone knows how they lived and died. Their cross country crime spree is the stuff of legend. Jenni L Walsh first dove into what made a woman like Bonnelyn turn to a life of crime with Clyde Barrow in Becoming Bonnie. In Side by Side she shines that same spotlight on their crime spree and ultimately humanizes them in the process.

The research that went into this novel is evident in every meticulous detail. It's like a snapshot of what Bonnie and Clyde's life on the run would have been like, and what that era in general was like for people living in it. It's setting at times feels disjointed as a result of the duo crisscrossing the country to evade police. This, however, fit the tone perfectly and ensure that the reader felt as disoriented as Bonnie did sometimes. These elements are all a testament to the strong writing that is within this book. Jenni L Walsh makes you feel like you are there experiencing it with the characters.

Many portrayals of Bonnie and Clyde treated their crime spree in a glamorous manner. They tend to gloss over the realities that would have come with the lifestyle they were living. The sleepless nights on the road. The constant worry that would have plagued them. The injuries that were never tended to properly. This portrayal makes it sound exhausting and horrific. It never erases what they've done, but makes you feel sympathy in a way that I am not sure other adaptations of managed quite so effectively.

The bond between Bonnie and Clyde must have been strong for them to have stood by each other during everything that happened. Jenni L Walsh weaves in the love they had for each other into every decision that is made. It's evident in every part of their journey. It makes your connection to the characters stronger because you become invested in ther connection to each other. 

We all know how the story of Bonnie and Clyde ends. It's an ending that always haunted me. I think it is a large part of why their infamy remains long after their lives ended. It's a tragic ending to an already tragic story. Their ending is handled perfectly within this book, as is the betrayal that facilitates it. It resonates in a way that ensures you feel it, and allows it to linger. It is, perhaps, one of my favourite parts of this well crafted read.

Jenni L Walsh weaves a heart tugging, gripping, and realistic portrait of two people who become criminals out of circumstance. It  is a perfect follow up to Becoming Bonnie and a must read for anyone interested in Bonnie and Clyde, or just wants a really great historical read. It, once again, boasts a strong character voice and ensures that I'll be reading anything else Jenni L Walsh writes next. 

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