Sometimes things happen in our lives that change who were are and what we believe. Sometimes it’s wonderful things and you see yourself in a whole new light and the world seems a better place than it was before.
Sometimes things happen to us that shatter and divide our lives and nothing is ever the same. The person you are after bears little or no resemblance to who you are today.
“The Shock of the Fall” is all about those things. The ones that alter our lives in an instant, and leaves a completely new set of rules and a new identity behind when its over. We meet Matt who is in the middle of the most defining moment of his life and while he is telling us the story of what has happened in his past, he manages to draw us into the world that he inhabits today.
“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.”
I first saw this book at a layover in a London airport and knew the second I saw that cover that I wanted to own and read it – and now that it’s on my shelf, I often find my eyes being drawn to its pretty spine and I’m very pleased that I took a chance on a book that I knew absolutely nothing about.
So, what is it about? Well, that’s a bit difficult to explain actually. It’s about family and loss and growing up and mental illness. Not in a “story of your life” sort of way, but rather running along all the strands that make up who we are and the people we love – our lives. “The Shock of the Fall” takes a very intimate look at what happens when those strands come undone – when the structure we assume is in place supporting our lives is suddenly changed and how once one strand is missing, the whole unity slowly comes apart.
But it is also about how we can go from being lost and unwound to becoming whole again. A different person and in a different life than where we started, but not necessarily worse. How the people we love can be lost and almost destroyed, but also put together again despite the direst of circumstances.
I was very positively surprised by “The Shock of the Fall”, which was really nothing like what I had thought it would be (despite the lack of clear expectations). I think I had expected a type of tragic, family ghost story, but instead I got a young man’s “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – albeit with a decidedly less depressing ending.
I’m not usually very keen on what you might call “human interest” stories – I don’t care much honestly about the true struggles of this and that person. And I generally find that bad endings for the character makes for much better story endings.
However, “The Shock of the Fall” was really lovely. Actually, that might be a strange word to use, because it is tough and filled with mental illness and loss, but I really think the author managed a perfect balance between despair and optimism in telling the story of Matt and Simon.
So, the only reason this book is just a new “really, really good book” and not a new “favourite book” is simply the genre and perhaps my own state of mind when I read it, but I will give it my warmest recommendations and tell you to go ahead and read it as soon as you can.
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, published in 2013 by Harper Collins