Hello there! Hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday with some surprisingly sunny weather! On such a lovely day, I thought I’d write another book review… why not eh?! Here is today’s book review: ‘The Shock of the Fall’ by Nathan Filer.
The book follows the story of a boy called Matt Homes. Matt has an older brother called Simon who has down-syndrome. In the opening pages Matt (the narrator) says he thinks you (the reader) will like Simon, but ‘in a few pages he will be dead’. After Simon’s death, the plot follows Matt and his family who are trying to adjust to a life without Simon and Matt’s own personal struggles with mental illness.
At first glance, I honestly thought this story followed by a much younger Matt, not a 19-year-old Matt, as the language is quite juvenile and immature. However, because the book is written as if Matt is writing it, his own train of thought is portrayed on paper. I liked that Matt writes the story as if it’s just coming out of his head, it made me connect with the characters more.
Matt is quite repetitive in the way he writes; certain things said or events happening are described or repeated often. At times, it was a little irritating, but it did fit well with Matt’s character, especially as he developed through the novel. Matt’s way of writing makes me think of the character Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger’s 1951 novel ‘The Catcher in the Rye’. Certain similarities like this made the book even more enjoyable. I did finish it within a day!
The story is essentially, a tragedy. I have a very deep sympathy of Matt Homes, the protagonist, even though it is written in first person, he doesn’t try to exaggerate his grief or state of mind, he just tells it how it is. In addition to losing his brother, Matt is struggling from his own mental illness (which is revealed later on in the novel, although clues are given throughout the story). I found that his character took a back seat after his brother died meaning that for most of the time, Matt was struggling on his own. Even when things start looking up for Matt, opportunities, friendship, moving on, his illness makes it hard for him to take advantage of these things and wastes his time. However, he knows he can write, and so he does.
The way to book is set out is also what I enjoyed about it too; half way through Matt is given a typewriter and so the font for a few chapters changes to a ‘typewriter font’. I believe this gives a personal touch to the book.
As this book is not very long, I don’t want to give much away! SPOILER ALERT- GO TO SECTION TITLED ‘RECOMMENDATION’. I have to say, I was not a huge fan of the ending. I felt as if Matt deserved a ‘happier’ ending for himself after his traumatic experiences yet the end was left open by Matt. I feel as if he was never fully understood by his friends or family even though he was trying his hardest to put things right. It was clear throughout the novel that Matt felt responsible for Simon’s death even though it was deemed an accident; I feel as if Matt’s grief/guilt was overlooked at times as he was only young when the accident happened. But it is clear he suffered throughout the novel, and he missed his brother dearly.
I enjoyed this book even though it was very sad and certainly jerked a tear or two at times. I would say Filer has researched this novel greatly, and reading the comments at the back it was eye-opening that this novel had been in-the-making for some time.
I would put this book in the audience of YA readers, but don’t let this put you off. I only say this because I believe YA readers would also enjoy this book as well as everyone else. It is a very unique and adventurous novel from Filer who was brave to take on such a complex story line. His portrayal of the characters is also something I admire about this novel. Too many books I have read are not researched enough or even go OTT when portraying characters but Filer does it with ease, an obviously well researched novel.
Happy reading! Lx