An insightful book The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer
When I started reading the book I had no idea what it was about, as the blurb on the back doesn’t really give it away.
It had good vibes – Costa book of the year, “You’re going to love it” quotes the Daily Mail, plus a few others say its dark, moving and compelling.
So What’s The Book About And What I Think?
The book is written from the perspective of Matthew, a ten-year-old boy who is on holiday when we first meet him. He is in a caravan park with his dad, mum and older brother Simon who is twelve.
Matthew sets about telling you his story of how he and his brother meet a girl at the holiday park called Annabelle. It doesn’t really seem that important at the time but the girl plays on Matthews mind over the years and features again at the end of the book.
Simon has Downs Syndrome and quite abruptly within the first two chapters he’s dead. So is this book about grief and how a young child deals with it? Partly but it has many more aspects later to be divulged.
We as the readers follow Matthew through his journey into teenage years where his parents, more the mother find it difficult to cope with the loss of a child. Matthew it seems is somewhat forgot, not on purpose but his emotional needs appear to have got lost in the day to day coping of life after death.
He starts secondary school and acting out as teenagers do, becomes friends with a boy called Jacob. Jacob is somewhat of a mystery to Matthew to begin with he runs out of school at lunch every day and as soon as the bell rings, one day Matthew follows. To his surprise Jacob is a carer for his mother, something clearing not know to the teachers who just see an acting out teen. It is this which makes Matthew decide to be a care assistant when he leaves school. Which is when he and Jacob get a flat and smoke pot.
Whilst at school Matthew realizes he is not quite the same as the other children. As a reader you get the idea that something is not right, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, you know there is something but cant quite put your finger on it. Turns out Matthew has mental health issues and later is diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Matthew sees Simon frequently in his mind and in other people. Becoming more and more involved in his mental health issues Matthew appears to blame himself for the death of his brother and cant seem to get past it. His thoughts delusional or not escalate and he ends up sectioned to a mental health ward.
This is an intriguing part and an integral one to the story as Matthew gives you an insight into how the ward runs on a day-to-day basis and because of the simplicity of his writing you understand better. I like the addition of letters from the mental health team when he does not comply with his medications; it makes it seem more real. The way the story is written is quite disjointed, especially when you start reading, but as you understand about the mental health issues you can see why it is so disjointed, that’s just how Matthews mind was working / thinking and he projects it well.
Towards the end you see Matthew try to resolve some of his long-term grief by going back to the caravan park and meeting Annabelle again. Matthew continues his story of yet the rest is left to be told.
I did like the story. Its not one that makes me keep reading and demanding to know what’s on the next page, but it’s a realistic story.
I found it interesting more than exciting. It was interesting to hear about the wards and that you as a reader could see how the mental health issues developed over the years. Starting the story in such a poignant way was crucial I think to the storyline.
I don’t think it’s a book I love like the Daily Mail said, I’m not sure its that kind of story really, but I do find it honest and I like that.
It is a well-written book in my opinion and although written by someone else on behalf of Matthew, it portrays his character well and I feel like I know Matthew somewhat.
I hope Matthew has achieved some of the answers he wants.
Published by Harper Collins 2013
Available from book stores like Waterstones and online shops like Amazon
Review maybe posted on other review sites under the same username Siberian-queen©
I am not at all surprised that this novel won the Costa book of the year award last year. I saw this book advertised online and I knew I had to order it and give it a read! This book has been written so well, it's very deep and definitely one of those books you can't put down! The book is about a boy with schizophrenia who is dealing with guilt and as the book goes on you really get to know the main character and how his brother Simon died. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves to read fiction books. I think this book is good because it really shows the importance on helping people with mental disorders. I would definitely read more books written by Nathan Filer. I really like how the main character in this grows up as the book goes on and starts learning why he is the way he is. As the story goes on you really slip into the different moods of the main character. I think this book definitely deserved the publicity it got with becoming Costa's book of the year last year, I think everyone should give it a read. This book will definitely be one I will remember for the remainder of my life as it really did touch my heart. The main message at the end of this book is that having a mental illness doesn't have to crush your spirit which is a great life message.
WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013 '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.' There are books you can't stop reading, which keep you up all night. There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real. There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days. The Shock of the Fall is all of these books. The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man's descent into mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction.