Beck Valley Books: “Both Sides” by Paul E. Stawski Book Review

By Ruth on November 10, 2013 in book, review, science fiction, young adult

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 bodyand 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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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?

Both SidesBoth Sides by Paul E. Stawski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me caution you–should you choose to read this book, it will probably be very different from anything you have ever read before. But on the flip side, how many of us remember the old cartoons where they did a brain transplant? Or better still, have you ever speculated about what life would be like in someone else’s body? As I read this book, I have to admit that I was a little unnerved at times since I realized that the day could actually come when science fiction becomes reality. After all, what George Orwell and Jules Verne wrote about has essentially come to pass.

As a young adult book, this book serves up a controversial story line that really insists that the reader thinks. There are no bedroom scenes, and there is some profanity (thanks for not spelling out the “f” word!). I was most intrigued about Alex’s thoughts during the time she was in a coma. And although I had to somewhat suspend reality, I was never bored during the book, and I can hardly wait to read the sequel! The book made me consider so many things, and I doubt I will forget this story any time soon. I found myself truly wondering what it is that makes me who I am. Is it all about my brain, my body, or is it possibly something else? And that was the author’s intention after all. He never takes a side; he is completely fair and balanced in his treatment of this issue.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

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Tour Dates


I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher


  1. sharon martin November 10, 2013 Reply

    Yes the next book should be another fantastic read, can’t wait either x
    sharon martin recently posted…Bobby’s Trials by Bobby Wilson, JDMy Profile

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