Title: The Shock of the Fall
Author: Nathan Filer
Published: January 4th 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Length: 314 pages
I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon.
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
‘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.’
Debut novel about one man’s descent into mental illness, following the death of his brother in childhood. Filer is a mental health nurse with a unique and startling insight into mental illness, and this book highlights a much-neglected subject.
Insight into a world as viewed by someone with a mental health problem, this book is illuminating in so many ways. When Matt’s older brother dies after an accident on a family holiday, Matt’s guilt starts to suffocate him and eventually he forms a plan to help his brother, whose voice he hears in everything and he also sees him too.
Matt’s mother pulls him out of school and mollycoddles him at home, worried that she’ll lose him too. As he gets older, Matt’s issues get worse but he manages to keep them under control, even moving into a flat with a boy he befriends from school. When the friendship diminishes and he’s left alone in the flat, Matt’s mental health deteriorates to the point where he is taken to a care home for support.
Matt tells his story in a haphazard way that is brutally honest about how he feels. His memories are jumbled and confused and it takes him a long time to tell the event as it happened. His confusion is clear and it’s a horrible feeling, sitting reading someone whose mind doesn’t work the same as everyone else’s, as they struggle to get across their message. I feel like this book is quite powerful in its depiction and description of what goes through someone’s mind who is schizophrenic – which is what Matt is diagnosed as.
The whole story leads up to the point of confrontation for Matt, returning to the scene where everything started going wrong. I think it’s a powerful point to show just how horrible his grief and guilt has been, how his condition only worsened these things, and how much it was tearing him apart.
I struggled with this book to start with. The jumping back and forth confused me for a while until I started to find the common thread and piece together the timeline. This is not an easy book to read and not everyone will be able to understand and empathise with the situation and character, but I think it was a powerful book and gave an honest representation of the circumstances.
This book is available at the following links:
About the Author
Nathan Filer is a writer and lecturer in Creative Writing.
His stand-up poetry has been a regular fixture at festivals and spoken-word events across the UK, and has been broadcast on BBC 3 television and radio 4, 7 and 5 Live. He is also a BBC Best New Filmmaker and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.
He lives in Bristol with his partner and their baby daughter.