Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

review by Maryom

I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

Ten years ago, a happy seaside holiday ended in heartbreak for the Homes family when their eldest son Simon died tragically. Burdened by guilt, his younger brother Matt never got over what happened that night and ten years later is still trying to come to terms with it. Now 19, after periods in and out of psychiatric care, Matt has decided to lay the past to rest by writing down his story.

The Shock of the Fall is an absolutely stunning read, one that definitely lived up to the praise I'd heard for it and perhaps is all the more amazing as it's a debut novel. By turns sad, funny, despairing and heart-warming, it's a caring, sympathetic portrayal of a young man sinking into mental illness, getting better, then regressing, but slowly and erratically improving as he comes to terms with his brother's death. It's a very perceptive novel - not just as regards Matt but everyone that appears in it; his whole family bowed down by grief - his father who copes through false jollity, his mother who becomes over-protective, and especially Grandma, Nanny Noo, showing her love the best way she knows, through cooking for her family; and the little cameos that appear throughout ; his friend Jacob, caring for his ill mother; Annabelle who appears only briefly but encompasses such grief within it; the care-workers, well-meaning but intensely irritating to Matt.
Told by Matt, as written on his Day Care Centre's computer and the old typewriter bought by Nanny Noo, the story is very cleverly constructed so that as you read, it feels like Matt doesn't want to face what happened rather than the author is deliberately teasing the reader and refusing to disclose it; when things get too painful, Matt swaps to a different subject.

A novel about mental instability and grief doesn't sound like a lot of fun - and if you're looking for light-hearted, give it a miss, though for a novel permeated by so much grief, it isn't all doom and gloom -  it's a deeply moving, compelling story that I want to tell everyone to read.

It will make you cry with Matt and for him.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Harper Collins (The Borough Press)
Genre - Adult fiction but recommended for older teens looking for with more substance.

Buy The Shock of the Fall from Amazon 

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