Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Illness
‘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.
This book! Wow! I have never read a book quite like it. There are plenty of books about grief, the death of a sibling, mental illness however they all seem a little fake and everything gets neatly tied up at the end in a nice big red bow where the main character has accepted the death and no longer has any mental problems. However the world is not like that and neither is this book.
At the start of this book I didn’t think it was going to be very good, the writing seemed a bit all over the place and it did make it quite confusing so I was thinking about not continuing with it but I thought I’d give it ago because everyone says it’s such a great book. I am so glad that I pushed on! The story is supposed to be confusing and jumbled up as the main character is just writing about his story as it comes to him, he may decide to talk about his dad but then get distracted by the nurse so will talk about her instead. This is a really interesting way to read a book, it is like a jigsaw puzzle, you know all the pieces however you do not find them in the correct order but by the time you finish the book you can see how they all slot together and form the bigger picture.
I think this book is really cleverly written, it is supposed to be in a way that someone thinks – their thought process – now think about it, when you’re thinking about something you can’t just think of one specific thing without it linking to others, this is how the book is written which admittedly at the start is a little confusing but stick with it because it does get better.
The author of this book Nathan Filer is a registered mental health nurse and this is clearly shown during the book, there are things that only someone who does this job day in and day out would know. Yes other books may know the daily routine of the psychiatric ward but can they actually describe the patients, how they feel, their good and bad days? No, only someone who has actually lives it could accurately be able to know this, that is what makes this such a good book. It is so realistic.
The book was about the mental illness but at the same time it wasn’t. Yes the character did have a mental illness which they were dealing with but it wasn’t told in the way that their illness became them. We got to see how Matthew dealt with this illness, he knew he had it and yet what he did seemed so normal, because that is what it was for him, his normal life, what he did was perfectly acceptable because he thought it was right for him because that is what his illness made him believe. It is so well written and accurately describes someone with a mental illness, they cannot see what they are doing is abnormal, to them it makes perfect sense.
The whole thing is beautifully written and is so realistic, the reader can obviously see that Matthew does have a problem however it is told in a way so that we can see it is his normal life – a very rare glimpse into the mind of someone with a mental illness. At times it is a difficult book and you do genuinely sympathise with what he is going through however it is a captivating read which I think everyone should read as they would certainly enjoy it.
Like I said at the start of this review it is about grief, a mother losing her little boy however unlike some books where they grieve for 5 minutes and then move on, this book shows how the death of a child can completely shatter your world and how it can affect you for years to come. It accurately showed how families are affected by death and mental illness. However that doesn’t mean it is a sad book, yes it is about the death of a child but it shows it in a light where you can try and move on but you can never forget them – a case which I think is true in real life.
I would definitely recommend this book, it is realistic and shows a very accurate view of what people with a mental illness go through, it is not something to be sneered at or turned away from, it is a person suffering and needs help. This book shows this help can be given and how it can affect someone. A lovely read that will make you think twice about mental illness.
Summing up: A realistic view of mental illness