Foreword Reviews


A Light Shines Through the Darkness

Clarion Rating: 2 out of 5

Encompassing both pain and hope, Sideffect is the story of a mourning father’s pursuit of justice.

Rodney Bridge’s based-in-truth novel Sideffect details a father’s efforts to redress the death of his son.

At sixteen, Preston’s future was bright. He was smart, kind, popular, and a talented athlete who’d drawn the interest of sports scouts. After sampling a variant of LSD at a party, though, Preston jumped from a balcony and died. With some outside help, Preston’s father worked to shut down the company that manufactured the drug that led to Preston’s death.

The bipartite, removed narration first focuses on Preston’s story; following his death, it focuses on his father’s story as he channels his grief and anger into action, including two undercover trips to China to meet with the drug company’s owner. There are also multiple detours into other people’s points of view, though, including those of Preston’s older sister, Aimee; his mother, Vicki; and his close friend, Mitchell. Still, Preston’s father’s feelings dominate the second section of the book.

Despite these differing perspectives, the story is shared in a single, long, uninterrupted format, without chapter or section divisions. Its jumps between perspectives are jarring and frequent, blurring specifics and the passage of time. Switched tenses and missing and incorrect punctuation further muddle the story. Additionally, the awkward and reductive treatment of Indigenous Australians undermines the book’s most sympathetic elements.

Still, there are affecting moments within the text, including its treatment of Preston’s jump from the balcony and its coverage of his funeral. The former is relayed in graphic detail, and the latter conveys a sense of sorrow that permeates all that follows it. Indeed, the book is poignant in relaying the emotional states of Preston’s mourners and metaphorical when it comes to illustrating his father’s grief.

In the end, the book’s disparate elements are tied together, contributing to its closing argument that the use of nonmedical drugs affects not just those who ingest them but also their families and those who deal them. Indeed, Rodney gives a speech at the end of the book that highlights the ripple effects of Preston’s life and death, recentering him as the book’s focus. A gallery of photographs is present here, too, closing the book on a note of sorrow.

Encompassing both pain and hope, Sideffect is the story of a mourning father’s pursuit of justice after his son’s promising life was cut short by drugs.

Reviewed by Carolina Ciucci

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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