The Bright Side Running Club

By Josie Lloyd

When Keira first receives her breast cancer diagnosis, she never expects to end up joining a running group with three women she’s only just met. Totally blind-sided, all she can think about is how she doesn’t want to tell her family or step back from work. Nor does she want to be part of a group of fellow cancer patients. Cancer is not her club.

And yet it’s running – hot, sweaty, lycra-clad running in the company of brilliant, funny women all going through treatment – that unexpectedly gives Keira the hope she so urgently needs. Because Keira will not be defined by the C-word. And now, with the Cancer Ladies’ Running Club cheering her on, she is going to reclaim everything: her family, her identity, and her life.

One step at a time.

Moving, uplifting and full of hope, this is a beautifully crafted novel about love, family and the power of finding your tribe.

Note – Thank you to Netgalley and Alcove Press for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Trying to be strong in the face of a cancer diagnosis – could I do it? This is the question I asked myself over and over as I read this book. This story is heartwarming, maddening, thrilling, thought-provoking and resolute in its endeavor to describe the journey one woman goes on after she is diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s a powerful story centering on the strength of women and yet doesn’t get bogged down overpowering feminist themes.

Although not written as an autobiography, the author infuses her own cancer journey into Keira’s story, giving the reader an inside view into what happens when one is catapulted into Cancer World. For me, this was a highly emotional journey even though I’ve never lost anyone to cancer. All five stages of grief are skillfully woven throughout the story as Keira navigates this diagnosis. We see the effect not only on her and her mental state but also on those around her. We see her break and fall, fail and flail and get back up using the support and love of those around her. She even leans on those who use her illness to try to destroy her. 

While Lloyd keeps our attention and focus on Keira, she also gives us a glimpse into what’s going on in the lives of those around her. Her husband, Tom, is maddening at times and seems unsupportive yet cannot overcome the deep, intense love he has for his wife. Her children, Tilly, Jacob and Bea each define their new roles within their home unit with all the difficulty and rebellion and fierce love for their mum appropriate to their ages. We see how the members of the Bright Side Running Club all cope with cancer in their way – choosing or not choosing to talk with those closest to them about their illness. And finally, we see her business partner attempt to use the opportunity for their own selfish gain – which is frustrating in the very least but it lends to Keira’s mental and emotional state as she sees how cancer changes her. 

The end is a bittersweet triumph of sacrifice, love and tenacity as these women are determined to overcome. I absolutely cried, laughed and cheered. I was on the edge of my seat as the final showdown came between Keira and Lorna and Pierre. I rejoiced with these women and wished them well as I closed the book, having finished it one box of tissues later. 

One does not need to be intimately acquainted with cancer in order to get something out of this story. The emotional attachment will be instant and immediate. I highly recommend this book and now am off to see what other books of Josie Lloyd’s I can find. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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