Monday, November 5, 2018

Book Review: Side by Side

Side by SideSide by Side by Jenni L. Walsh

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF @ 40%

Fiction and Fact; where do the two meet one another? How much of a noveliazation based on real people and real events can be truly believed to be fact?
Usually I go into books like Side by Side, which is about Bonnie and Clyde, knowing that I'm going to be reading a fictionalized version of some real life people. This (generally) allows me to be open minded and allow for the writer to manipulate some dates and character reactions in order for good fiction to come of the novelization. However, I feel Jenni L. Walsh went too far with Side by Side.

Too sympathetic
I stopped reading at 40% after having been super annoyed with Bonnie's excuses for everything. At about the 20% point I remember thinking that Bonnie must come to her sense soon. And yet that never seems to happen. Bonnie is portrayed as being 'innocent' the entire time that the men are knocking off banks, running from the law and even shooting officers dead. There has to be a point at which this woman can no longer use the 'anything for Clyde' BS excuse she has; or so I would have thought. Turns out Walsh doesn't agree and so I gave up on Side by Side as I didn't want to read another word about how Clyde had to do something or was justified in his heinous crimes.

One Great Moment
There is however a scene that is absolutely fantastic and I'd like to give a nod to Walsh for. It's regarding the moment in which the most famous photographs of Bonnie and Clyde are taken. You know the ones where they are all dressed-up and leaning against cars with guns of all kinds in their hands. It includes the infamous photo of Bonnie with a rifle and cigar in her mouth. This was well portrayed and regardless of how it really happened in real life I did enjoy Walsh take on this 'picnic' excursion that turned into exaggerated picture taking.

I think the story of Bonnie and Clyde is very compelling. It's a little strange but many of us are jealous of the kind of love and devotion that is said to have been between the two of them. What we (as outsiders) to Bonnie and Clyde's relationship need to ask ourselves is, was their love worth the lives of more than 8 police officers?
I'd like to think I'd say no. But then again I do love my husband and I suppose it's hard to say what you will do for the person you love when push comes to shove. At the very least I hope I wouldn't delude myself into believing that all was well as I broke the law with my partner or that it would be just 'one more robbery'. I'd like to think I'd be realistic with myself.
It's too bad this portrayal bothered me so much as there is a story to be told her. Just not from the perspective that Walsh tells it here.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

I didn't know a lot about Bonnie and Clyde (aside from 'a pair of gangsters who were in love'), and this review actually got me to at least read the Wikipedia entry on them. Turns out the whole story was much less romantic than modern media wants you to believe...I'm not surprised! I guess when writing fiction about characters like them, it's a very fine line between making them unlikable and being unrealistic. Sad to hear Walsh did not manage to walk that line.