The Shock of the Fall
COSTA Book of the Year 2013
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.
Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that as I write this review my soul is currently attempting to recover from the cuteness the movie Zootropolis is. I have NEVER wanted a fox and a bunny to kiss so much in my life. If ever. I SWEAR I’M NOT WEIRD WEIRD.
The cover art gave me no reason to not pick the book up
I was actually supposed to be hunting down books for my English coursework and flip to the back cover where the confession “but in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that,” reeled me in because WHAT, YOU CAN’T JUST GO ROUND DROPPING DEATH BOMBS ON ME LIKE THAT WITHOUT ME NOT WANTING TO KNOW THE HOW WHY WHATS of the backstory.
The style of the book was very refreshing. The minimal drawings, the alternating style of narrating via a type writer, medical notes, or prose, the use of spacing at times to illustrate a point, it was all very unique. And I loved how different it was set out to most books, and how the author managed to pull it off at the same time.
To me this book was incredibly insightful because it gave me such an unfiltered, vivid view into the mind of someone living with schizophrenia. Mental health isn’t made the main focus of the novel though; it captures so much more than that – pain, grief, love.
The title of the novel itself drew me in. However, why that specific title was chosen kept bugging me throughout. I was always thinking when am I going to understand the why, and finally
before my patience ran out and I tore my hair out the narrator’s portrayal of events made everything click and my answer was found. I FELT SO ENLIGHTENED.
SPOILERS MAY OCCUR: READ WITH CAUTION
Matt is a nineteen year old attempting to put his thoughts to paper using a typewriter his Nana got him. The death of his younger brother with Downs syndrome turns his life upside down. The shifting in memories doesn’t tell us why Matt feels guilt; instead it reveals heart wrenching scenes and emotions that we can relate to on some levels. Having been sectioned in a ward after being deemed unable to cope alone, Matt doesn’t prevent that from being himself. Throughout the narration he makes humorous observations, he is brutally honest, is aware of how others perceive him and in general transports us into his way of thinking. It’s not done in a way where he gains our sympathy, but instead shows us how he feels and sees things.
A memorable moment is when the girl he watched bury a doll all those years ago ends up walking him away from the cliff edge. I think the manner in which they conversed was touching, and how despite how intimidating he was, and how he kept insisting that was Simon’s yellow blanket, she didn’t just leave him. I love how she is the type of person where “everything was important, but nothing was so important that it couldn’t be interrupted with another offer of tea from her flask, or a question about if you were warm enough.”
Favourite quote from book:
It’s like we each have a wall that separates our dreams from reality, but mine has cracks in it. The dreams can wriggle and squeeze their way through, until it’s hard to know the difference. Sometimes the wall breaks completely. It’s then that the nightmares come.
And that brings my first review on here to a wrap.
Was this a complete flop
Have any of you read The Shock of the Fall? Are you interested in reading it now?