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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding M.E.
My modest opinion about "Falling through the world" so far:
As I have been with no Internet connection all day long, I could not work (what a shame....), so I used this time to do something that I've wanted to do for a few days ago; Start reading "Falling through the world".
Even though I was aware about M.E., I had always imagined it was something similar to...
Published on 25 Nov 2012 by Leonor Cervantes

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars very good at the beginning but after 3/4 the way through ...
very good at the beginning but after 3/4 the way through it did get a bit of the same
Published 18 days ago by brians


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding M.E., 25 Nov 2012
This review is from: Falling Through the World ~ A Journey Through ME/CFS ~ A Novel (Kindle Edition)
My modest opinion about "Falling through the world" so far:
As I have been with no Internet connection all day long, I could not work (what a shame....), so I used this time to do something that I've wanted to do for a few days ago; Start reading "Falling through the world".
Even though I was aware about M.E., I had always imagined it was something similar to the flu....until the moment I started my reading and completely changed my mind....and that moment was today.
From the very beginning I was trapped by the book, involved, as the story about Sarah started so full of details that you could easily imagine every scene. During the first chapters I was sometimes giggling, always sympathizing, but the most important thing is I really started to understand M.E. and how a person feels with it, for the first time ever! There were moments when Rachel Clarke took me to Sarah's world so well, that I felt like I was in Sarah's shoes, and I was petrified, realizing how brave a person with M.E. needs to be due to this lack of help that they normally should find in doctors and also in our society! I felt frustrated, I felt lost in that world and I felt like I could now understand my friend (who suffers from M.E.) more now than ever!
Pages 71-72 made me cry. I had giggled before, I had smiled and I had sympathized but I had not cried yet. What can I say about this brilliant author. There is something about the way she describes the situation that makes you feel you are so in the main character's shoes that you can almost live their experiences. I am so looking forward to continuing my reading as unfortunately I had to stop at page 74, chapter 7. I am so grateful to Rachel Clarke, the author, the person who allowed me to understand the complex word of M.E. Thank you so much, Rachel. I recommend this book to everyone with a little bit of sympathy for life and some sense of social responsibility as M.E. is something that could happen to any of us, to our children, and, if this ever happens, we will be helped then, only because someone else fought for this to happen, like Rachel Clarke is fighting right now. You have got all my sincere support. xxx
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pathos and humour, 19 Nov 2012
The writing in this debut novel is smooth and concise, employing both humour and pathos to depict the characters and move the plot forwards at a pleasing pace. Even with my own M.E.-addled brain and limited reading capacity I found this an enjoyable and easy read with manageable chapters. In fact, having had M.E. since I was eight, I would go as far as to say that reading it was like a sigh of relief. Rachel Clarke's depiction of a teenager struggling with school, new relationships and the horror of a debilitating mystery illness is comfortingly accurate and simply enough told to cut through brain fog. Symptoms are portrayed with pure and brief precision and relationship dynamics are realistic. I felt acknowledged and understood!

The scene is set in chapter one just before our protagonist, Sarah, becomes ill. We see her as a very normal, vibrant teenager: someone any healthy person could identify with, enhancing the sense that this illness can strike anyone. Characters around her are well portrayed and Sarah's own character proves to be determined and strong, without being idealised or angelic. My only quibble would be Sarah's father's rapid change in attitude towards his daughter's illness. I personally found this a little simplistic and hopeful but it worked within the overall plotline and just because it doesn't reflect my own experience this doesn't make it an unworthy or necessarily unrealistic turn of events.

The test of a book is whether you're content to put it down at the end of a chapter and how readily you want to pick it up again. From the outset, I was in Sarah's world and wanted to know how she fares and what happens both to her health and her relationships. When I did have to rest, she stayed with me in my mind, urging me to read more as soon as I could. I cared about her.

If I had to categorise Falling Through the World, I would put it under teen or young adult fiction. It flows that easily. This is not a criticism. You only have to bring to mind such modern teen/children's classics as Harry Potter, the Twilight series, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and The Hunger Games to know that genres bleed into each other and adults can enjoy teen fiction every bit as much as the audience it was written for.

I would especially recommend this book to teenagers/young adults who have experienced M.E./CFS either themselves or via a friend or family member (my sixteen year old daughter is currently reading it. Despite having gone off books, she is engrossed!). Parents, carers, teachers, health care workers, and anyone with a passing interest in the illness (either from their own perspective or out of interest at how events beyond an individual's control can affect a young life) will find it equally rewarding, not just for themselves but for the understanding they will gain and be able to share. It is light enough to be enjoyed by even very busy working adults as well as ill and concentration-reduced readers, while being emotionally weighty enough to satisfy and give solace.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving, extremely well executed and accurate story, 15 May 2013
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This review is from: Falling Through the World ~ A Journey Through ME/CFS ~ A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I came across this book whilst researching books on M.E. This is a novel tells the story of Sarah, a teenager who is struck down with a mystery illness. We see her battle her symptoms, whilst also struggling to keep up with friends, relationship and school, and follow her journey as she is eventually diagnosed with M.E.

This is a book that's extremely difficult for me to review because the story is basically my life. I fell ill at fourteen and was diagnosed with M.E at fifteen, so this is all very close to home for me, even more so as I share the main character's name! What I can say is that although at times this was a difficult read for me because of how close the subject matter is to my heart, it was also a highly accurate portrayal of life as a teenage M.E sufferer and I was completely blown away by the phenomenal job the author has done.

Readers who aren't familiar with M.E as an illness will hopefully have their eyes opened by Sarah's story, but aside from that, they'll also find a gripping, emotional story with fantastic characters and a great plot. I hope people won't be put off by the subject matter, because whilst this book carries an underlying message, Clarke has also managed to keep in some great humour and most importantly the feeling of hope which completely lifts this novel up and stops it being too bleak.

The first person POV worked really well and Sarah was a completely engaging character. I fell in love with her voice and laughed along with her as well as feeling the anger and frustration of what she has to endure alongside her. I really loved her friendship with her best friend Ali, which doesn't always run smoothly. Ali herself is a fantastic addition to the story with her sharp tongue and brutal honesty. That sarcastic nature really reminded me of friends of mine and I think she's exactly the kind of friend you need when you have a chronic illness! It was great seeing the strong bond between Sarah and her mum as well, something which really pulled at the heartstrings whilst I was reading and a bond I could identify with.

Sarah's story, as I mentioned, is one I recognised completely. From the terrifying feeling of falling ill and not knowing what's wrong with you and the even scarier prospect of discovering there is no cure. The struggles she faced at school were all too familiar, from her battle to keep in touch with friends, missing school and not gaining qualifications and the rumours that fly around school when you're not there. Her experience of using a wheelchair really hit home - I too felt the embarassment the first time I used mine. In fact even some of the lines spoken by characters in this book were lines that people in my life have spoken themselves. It really is quite freaky just how accurate it is and I was so relieved it was done so well.

As a YA novel, Falling Through the World has everything - emotion, friendship, heartbreak and romance, as well as family and school related drama! It also tackles the issues that M.E sufferers face every day - the lack of understanding and poor treatment by medical professionals, as well as the crippling symptoms the illness entails.

Reading this book (and writing this review!) had me close to tears, but in the most complimentary way possible. Falling Through the World has managed to balance an addictive story with an important message, and it is a book I will be recommending for years to come.

This review was also posted on my blog.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, genuine and beautiful!, 4 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Falling Through the World ~ A Journey Through ME/CFS ~ A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I was almost scared to read Falling Through The World by Rachel Clarke because knowing that it was a book about a person with M.E. written by a person with M.E., I so wanted to love it. I wanted to be able to relate to it. I wanted to not be disappointed or frustrated by it. I hoped that it wouldn't be preachy or patronising, that there would be no element of faux-optimism that people so often feel the need to include in a story involving illness and adversity. As it turned out, I had no reason to fear.

Falling Through The World is written from the perspective of a teenager with M.E., so although certain aspects of the protagonist's life felt slightly alien to me in terms of my own uneasy co-existence with this condition, it reminded me that many of the experiences that people with M.E. have are actually pretty universal. The tone is genuine and real, and I found myself feeling emotionally invested in the characters from the beginning.

I also found myself nodding a lot, thinking "Yes! Exactly!" and generally spending a lot of time relishing the feeling that someone out there `gets it'. While there is an obvious on-going focus on the symptoms of M.E. and how they effect the live of the protagonist, the book is delightfully void of both excessive woe-is-me self-victimisation or, conversely, declarations of miraculous revelation.

The author cleverly highlights the glaring gaps in the UK medical profession's knowledge about and treatment of M.E. and demonstrates with painful accuracy how isolating and fundamentally life-altering this illness can be. Although the book is full of insightful and interesting information about M.E. (obviously meticulously researched, which is very satisfying), Falling Through The World is not just a book about an illness. It is a book about grief and love and family and relationships and discovery. It is poignant and achingly honest, and reduced me to tears more than once.

Rachel Clarke speaks from the heart. Her voice is one worth listening to.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Falling Through the World by Rachel Clarke, 9 April 2013
This review is from: Falling Through the World ~ A Journey Through ME/CFS ~ A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Falling through the World is a compelling and gripping story all about a teenage girl called Sarah. Sarah is struck down with a mysterious illness and her health begins to fail her. Sarah becomes really ill and is no longer able to continue living a normal teenage life. When her family find that they can get no help with a diagnosis from their doctor, they take it upon themselves to find out what it is that is making Sarah so ill. They find out that the illness that is the best match to Sarah's symptoms is a condition called ME (Mya Encepho) a condition that does not seem to be recognised in the medical world.

In the authors notes in this book Rachel Clarke says that she hopes this novel can do a small amount to raise awareness of ME and she really does achieve this, I did not know anything at all about ME, I had heard about it, but now after reading this book, it does give the reader a better understanding of the condition and with its emotional storyline, it makes you feel more compassionate towards people who suffer from ME, than the detachment of if you had read up on the condition in a text book. By using characters emotions and experiences, this book is a great idea of how to get information across about a condition that is often not understood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!, 7 Jan 2013
There are few books out there which manage to educate you about a deeply serious issue and make you laugh. This is one of those books. The story of a teenager who develops a devastating illness with seemingly no cure, we are provided with a rare insight into a very misunderstood and shocking illness.

It had me gripped from the first page and I loved spending time with the characters, who provided plenty of humour. I would recommend this to anyone with M.E but also those who have a friend or family member with the condition and who would like to understand a bit more about the person they care about who seems to have disappeared from every day life. But the story is also strong enough to be of interest to all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seen Through the Eyes of a Victim, 19 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Falling Through the World ~ A Journey Through ME/CFS ~ A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I read this novel as part of the research I’m undertaking before writing an account of my own experience of ME/CFS. The book is written from the point of view of a teenage girl brought down by this dreadful condition. It’s an honest, funny, moving and, at times, harrowing account of the life of a sufferer.

The reader is exposed to the prejudices of the ignorant, the helpless ignorance of the general medical profession, the casual cruelty that can come from friends and relatives, and the total lack of understanding that so frequently accompanies this much-misjudged condition.

Although this is a novel, it’s also a work that encapsulates the reality of ME/CFS. At the same time, it captures the fears, hopes, dreams and sorrows of a teenage girl and, to some extent, those of her family and friends.

A well-written story, full of hope, questioning, self-doubt, frustration and ambition, it carries the reader on waves of emotional ups and downs as the narrator describes what’s happening to her. Not a long novel, it nevertheless manages to incorporate most of what it’s like to live with ME/CFS, and provides readers with useful clues as to how sufferers, their families, and their medical helpers can best be approached.

There is the strong possibility that all readers will have some contact with either a sufferer or a member of the family of a victim. Because of this, I recommend the book to all. It’s punchy, accessible and short enough for all to read. Please do that, and educate yourself about this condition that attacks and ruins the lives of so many people of all ages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant at getting across the daily lives of those with M.E./CFS, 18 May 2013
This review is from: Falling Through the World ~ A Journey Through ME/CFS ~ A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I've had M.E./CFS for over ten years now, and have always been wary of reading novels about illness. I was nervous about reading this book, but decided to go ahead anyway. What I found was an eloquent and engaging - and most of all ACCURATE - account of what's it's like to have M.E./CFS. The writer really gets across the loneliness, segregation and pain the illness can cause. It brought back a lot of memories of how I was at my worst, which made me very upset. However, no one who reads this book can be in any doubt by the end of this book that M.E. really is a physical, not a psychological illness.
I applaud Rachel Clarke for her work, and want to say thank you; although it was upsetting and at times downright frightening to realise this is how I was in the beginning, and after the relapse, it is a book that should be read. I would recommend people without M.E./CFS read this not to feel sorry for those of us who have it, but to understand better our limitations, and the devestating effect it can have on people's lives. It is not a trendy illness, it is real and needs more research into its causes and what can be done to help manage the symptoms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book., 30 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Falling Through the World ~ A Journey Through ME/CFS ~ A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I was a bit dubious about reading this book at first as a fellow sufferer of M.E.but not a teenager. However once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Definitely recommend it to anyone who suffers from or wants to understand the way M.E./CFS makes you feel and impacts on your life. Well written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended reading !, 28 Dec 2012
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I found that this book strongly resonates in me, because i have watched four young teenagers go through the same horrible illness, and one of them is still bed bound after seven years. It is a well written fresh and realistic story of a young girl slowly losing her life, as she had known it, as the illness develops. It isn't maudlin or self-pitying, and there are touches of humour that surprise and delight.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand about the illness ME, or who dares to enter the world of the thousands of people who live in the shadowlands because they have a chronic illness. Its not a text book on the illness, its a compelling story of a young girls journey in its own right.
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