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The Right Side: A female soldier returns from war and travels cross country with a found dog

The Right Side by Spencer Quinn book cover

The Right Side, Spencer Quinn

Genre: General Fiction

Published 2017, 323 pages


LeAnne returns from service in Afghanistan minus an eye and with scarring on her face, her body weak and her memory damaged – unable to hold on to simple things - what day it is, what time it is, what she had been about to do. “Things were going on in her head that weren’t her.” Angry and confused, swearing and bulldozing her way uncertainly through her new life, running from therapy and family, she sets out across the country with an unexpected companion at her side.

“She had years and years of contrary stored up inside her, like a smoldering mound just waiting for a blast of oxygen.”
“…the windshield wipers whipping back and forth at their fastest, a wild motion that gave her a creepy feeling that found its place among all the fucked-up feelings already in her head.”

After returning stateside and losing a friend, Marci, in the hospital where they are both recovering from their injuries, LeAnne decides to head to Marci’s small town to meet her young daughter. When her daughter goes missing, LeAnne finally has a purpose and goes on a mission to find her, despite the fact that the local authorities are not happy about it.

In the midst of dealing with all of this, a large stray dog rescues LeAnne when she doesn’t want to be rescued and this non-dog-lover discovers a loyal, protective companion who slowly helps her begin to adjust to her new life. When LeAnne leaves the dog (now named Goody) with a possible new friend for a few days, upon her return this is the welcome she receives:

Goody flew past him, bound to LeAnne, stood straight up, her paws digging into LeAnne’s shoulders and licked her face in a frantic way. “Hey, there” LeAnne said. And “easy now.” Plus, “that’s enough, you can stop.” But she loved it. Goody finally stopped, raced down to the end of the row, tore back to LeAnne, and went through her whole welcome home routine all over again.


Quinn’s series of Chet & Bernie books, written from the viewpoint of the dog, is a light-hearted and fun series. The Right Side has a much more serious side and I hope there is a follow-up. Although I can’t truly imagine LeAnne’s experiences, and she was certainly an unpleasant and often rude person, I really rooted for her and want her to recover and find a good place in her life. If you can share when a dog made a difference in your life, I would love to hear about it.

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