Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
on 6 January 2017
Title: The Shock of the Fall
Author: Nathan Filer
'There was the shock of the fall and the blood on my knee...'
A book with a schizophrenic protagonist is a delicate balancing act. One which Filer excels at.
Matthew - our point-of-view narrator - is a complex, realistic character. He doesn't fall head-long into stereotypes, but neither is his illness ignored.
He is mentally ill. He is also a nineteen-year-old boy in Bristol. One who wants to tell his own story, thank you very much.
He wants people to listen to him - even if he's not making much sense, he still wants to be heard. And it's the characters who listen to him - even if they ultimately disagree with his opinions - who Matt prefers.
Because people with mental illnesses don't just want to be talked at, over, or around. They want you to hear them out, even if you make decisions that go against their wishes, they'd still like their wishes to at least be acknowledged.
We want you to understand that we are not children. We are adults who are ill.
If you made a decision for a cancer patient without at least listening to their opinion, there would be uproar. Make a decision for a mental health patient without asking their opinion? Meh.
But Filer explains this without ever explaining it. He simply allows the character to tell his story, and places the reader in Matt's shoes for a while.
Not that he paints Matt as an angel - far from it. He's not some martyred saint. He's a real person, with all the flaws and quirks that brings.
He's not pitied, but neither is he demonised. And that is an incredible achievement.
And I love the non-linear structure.
We experience the story as Matt does - with flitting thoughts as he moves from one train of thought to another. We experience his present as well as his past, complete with complaints at people reading over his shoulder.
This is an excellent book guys. Read it.
(This review originally appeared on Diary of a Reading Addict (DORA))