Hi everyone! The sun is out, I’m very well-fed from being at home with my parents for the weekend and it’s the first of March. In the nick of time, I finished February’s book yesterday evening on the train – can someone please remind me to stop finishing books on trains? Not only did it not feel right to just put the book back in my bag once I’d turned the last page and play another game of Candy Crush, but in such a public setting it’s nearly impossible to let all the events of the final few chapters sink in without almost crying or making some sort of really nice noise that definitely doesn’t sound off-putting to the rest of the carraige.
Anyway. The Shock Of The Fall. I ordered this from Amazon back in January after I’d seen it had been awarded the Costa Book of the Year award for 2013. Who wouldn’t trust what coffee recommends them to read? I’m also a sucker for an eye-catching cover. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover – but look how lovely and blue it is!
The Shock Of The Fall is narrated by Matthew Homes, a troubled teenager suffering from mental illness following the sudden death of his older brother Simon, for which he feels responsible. Matthew is forced into home schooling and decides to move out at 17, suffocated by his overprotective parents and the guilt he feels from the constant reminders of his brother.
I liked a lot about this book. I’ll organise my thoughts properly. Hang on.
- Homes’ narration style is fragmented; I imagine it’s exactly how he thinks. Each ‘chapter’ is barely 5 pages long, some being wildly off-topic from those that precede it. This really isn’t a problem though. What we receive is a raw, first-hand account of everything Matthew experiences and feels as it happens.
- Nanny Noo, who is such a great character! Nanny Noo visits Matthew every other Thursday, brings pasta bake and has a sneaky smoke with him of the menthol cigarettes she stashes in her grandson’s kitchen drawer. She’s a friend as well as his grandma and is a constant in his life, always appearing to pick Matthew up at his worst, when he needs her the most.
- I also really liked how we learn of Simon’s death so early on and how the story unravels from there. It’s a plot device that isn’t used nearly enough, I don’t think. There’s still plenty to be revealed throughout the book (and believe me, concealing my shock on a busy train was no easy task!) The contrast between such an honest, upfront story being told by a teenager so wrapped up in his own mind is stunning and Filer’s done an excellent job of it.
- I think my favourite thing, though, is that Matthew’s family is so refreshingly commonplace. The story is set in Bristol and I haven’t read many books that are set in Britian and make such an accurate reference to how life is here for the nondescript, average family. Watching Eastenders on the settee with the family is just so…normal. I know I’ve done it plenty of times! I think The Shock Of The Fall has been received so well because Filer creates an environment where you feel as though the Homes family could be living down the road from you. I can’t accurately express how much I love the backdrop of an average life ticking on around Matthew.
I think on the whole I’m fairly desensitised to serious mental illness due to its stigma from other books, films and TV shows. It’s a shame, really, because I wasn’t as impacted by this as I hope I would’ve been – but that’s my problem, not Filer’s. If anything, I think for anyone new to the genre this will definitely leave a lasting impression much longer than the more dramatic novels dealing with similar subject matter. I would still recommend it to anyone though, and can’t wait for Filer’s next release!