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The Shock of the Fall
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on 1 May 2017
is is so clever, creative and well-written that it had me captivated throughout- not often that I feel so positive about a book....

despite the heavy and serious subject matter, it avoided being gloomy and even was a bit funny in parts- more darness than light but still a good mix.

Was surprised to read after I finished it, that the author is a professor of creative writing which often means, from other books I've read by creative writing graduates, that they are full of too many words which are over-blown and unneccessary- no such problem as it is very tautly written and sparing with the use of laguage.

The voice of Matt was totally authentic and consistent between his various ages. Some of the mantal health workers and teams were shown in all their myriad forms including real sensitivity and care as well as the dreadful PC language which has infiltated our care services.

Also thought his parents and Nanny were done so well too- not heavy- handed at all but sketched in lightly but totally believably whilst keeping,rightly, the main focus on Matt.

loved the use of different fonts which was a very different and useful device.
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on 12 April 2016
Our small book group of only six read this last month and I'm afraid it didn't make much of an impression. Some people said they thought it seemed too like the product of a creative writing course. He had certainly gone out of his way to make it as readable as possible with the changes of font and cutting backwards and forwards in time to enhance the suspense. It seemed a bit gimmicky and somewhat contrived in tying up all the loose ends. It had, however, been a great critical and commercial success, perhaps because it fits in with a new genre of writing – helping the general population understand better the lives of people with mental health problems. We have read something similar in The Wasp Factory, The Curious Incident and Vernon God Little.The book may have gently altered our ability to empathise with and tolerate madness in others. It definitely illuminated the problems with anti-psychotic medication and the critical role of family who, if too needy, can hold the sufferer back.
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on 8 October 2017
This novel is unlike anything I have ever read. There is a particular style to the writing which I got used to fairly quickly but it may not be to everyone's taste. The theme is a very ambitious one for a debut novel, any book writing about mental illness is going to be a challenge, but the author pulls it off. It tells the story of a boy and his struggles coming to terms with the death of his brother when they were both young kids, the guilt, helplessness and solitude of grief. For the author to write so authoritatively about psychiatric institutions reveals both his occupation before writing this novel and also a very obvious compassion when dealing with the challenges of metal illness.
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on 7 December 2017
Hate to rain on the parades of those who believe this to be a masterpiece. I was bored and irritated by it for the first 25 pages, thinking that the book is Holden Caulfield brought up to date but not so interesting. Oddly, I gave up on the book but flicked to the Q and A section at the end of the book. Lo and behold, the author mentions his readings prior to writing- Holden Caulfield. Sorry, i had great hopes for the book after the reviews but gave up quickly. Too quickly? I will never know.
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on 9 April 2016
Until about three quarters of the way through this book I intended to give it just one star but then it redeemed itself just enough to merit another.
Up to that point I found it really hard going and was actually losing the will to live, it was so colourless and tedious, not to mention depressing. However, I was determined to stick with it to the bitter end and round about the point where we discover, at last, what happened to the brother and the events that triggered the main character's decline into mental illness, it started to hold my attention. Other reviewers have mentioned the humour in the book. Sorry but if there was any it was lost on me. I can't honestly say I understand why this book has received such acclaim. I think there have been much better books written centred on mental illness, with much more likeable main characters.
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on 14 January 2016
When I started reading this, I felt like giving this 5 stars, however I had to drop this rating towards the end of the book. It is a story about a man who is mentally ill, yet being told from a perspective that makes Matt seem human and just another person with no obvious discrimination against him. The author also included famous brands and activities we do every day such as characters coming back from Tesco instead of the made up brands we usually read about, which for me added some realism. The book is quite disjointed and has random lines of thought popping up, and it feels like we really are reading the thoughts of someone who is mentally ill at times and was a refreshing read.

Towards the end however, Matt was getting back on track - he went back to the health centre, got his injections and was assured that the support would continue. He also arranged a memorial service for his brother, which should have provided him some closure about his brother's death. Yet the book suddenly seemed to get even more disjointed at this point when he should have been getting better and have more normal trains of thought, and was annoying to follow.

Just before the start, there is a note that says "Different fonts are used in this novel and will enhance the reading experience" - to me this seemed to imply that it may have different fonts to imply his mental state, but in reality it was the difference between being on a computer at the health centre and using a typewriter when at home, and I did not feel that it enhanced my reading experience.

Overall, it is an interesting read, but I probably will not read it again.
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on 10 March 2016
This is an emotional book, heart-wrenching in places, and it really made me think about my own life and relationships. There were moments when I wanted to cry, because the heartache, guilt and remorse were so vividly portrayed.

The characters are skilfully written, in a simple but stark manner, with the protagonist, Matthew, portrayed as a gentle, kind and confused young man who is suffering tremendously under the weight of his disabled brother’s death and his own encroaching mental deterioration.

The writing style is fluid and accessible, although the narrative jumps around a lot, disjointed in places, which can be slightly difficult to follow (though I know this was intentional – as a means of portraying the protagonist’s schizophrenic mind).

For me personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the earlier parts of the book, when Matthew was younger and his illness was developing. The opening chapter is very powerful and dragged me right into the story. However, I began to lose interest in the final part of the book. There was a lot of repetition and it began to drag once everything had been resolved and the book just kept on going! I felt that the plot should have converged on a final moment of closure, instead of continuing on to explain the ‘aftermath’ which I felt was unnecessary.

I listened to this on audiobook and the voice actor was perfect for this book. He spoke clearly, was easy to understand and gave a genuine warmth and personality to each character.
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on 14 June 2016
A great little book this, recommended to me by a colleague at work and well worth a read.
Told in the first person by Matthew, a young man who has been in and out of an institution, due to mental illness; it takes us through his teenage life, and teaches us what matters to him and what does not.
The author handles the subject of mental illness with a certain subtlety which I felt suited the book, and has a good balance of back story. As one progresses, the reader starts to understand some of the main character's angst towards his family, his doctors and his dead brother.
Some aspects of the story I found a bit unrealistic (moving out of the family home into a rented flat at seventeen, with schizophrenia), and I couldn't work out if the author intended the reader to guess at the fact that Matthew was somehow involved in his brother death, or whether it was supposed to be a surprise. Rest assured it was not.
Overall I enjoyed this book and would happily recommend it, three and half stars.
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on 6 January 2017
The only way to describe this book is by using the cliche words that everyone else has already used - thought provoking, insightful, moving, upsetting but with a twist of dark humour interspersed throughout. I've had this on my kindle for ages now, but I think I was put off reading it because I thought it may be a depressing read, being about mental illness. Instead I was engrossed. I don't know much about mental illness and after reading this book I feel lucky to be so fortunate, as it really is an eye opener reading the inner turmoil of a young mans descent into it. It is totally different to any other book I have read this year and I would definitely recommend it, even to readers who initially feel like me about the subject matter.
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on 11 November 2015
This story is narrated by Matthew, a man suffering from Mental Health issues retelling his life and how he got to this point. It goes through various points in his life - the death of his brother, how he was treated after, his first encounter of the real world and his spiral into schizophrenia. I am by no means an expert on schizophrenia, but this book felt utterly convincing. To the side affects his suffered, the changes when he was not talking his medication, the genetic relevance to the disease and the relationships he made as a result.

This was one of those books which stops you in your tracks and makes you see the world around you. It helps you understand how mental health can affect us all, how you can make progress but you may slip back but that is okay. How funding into outpatient treatment is declining and all in all schizophrenia aside, he is a likeable person and just like us.

Matthew was a fantastic character. You went through each of his emotions with him. This is honestly one of the best books I have read in a long time, and one I highly recommend.
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