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4.4 out of 5 stars
2,212
4.4 out of 5 stars
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 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 1 October 2017
This wasn't what I expected from the first few pages. It is a deeply moving, very well written piece of work which moves very well through the subject's life at a pace that enables the reader to understand not only what is going on and what happened but how it is being interpreted by the people who are affected. I don't have experience of mental illness but if gives a very real insight into what it must be like for those suffering from various sorts of it and why people think as they do. I read it in two sittings, and would have finished it one if I hadn't started it so late at night.
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on 11 September 2017
This is a story about Matt and his older brother Simon. Simon dies when, as brothers do, they were out playing childish games. The effect on the family is devastating but in the case of Matt it is the beginning of a spiral to madness.
This book is worth reading simply to experience the creative writing used by the author. Cleverly it is Matt who is writing his story and in doing so becomes to understand his own mental illness.
Recommended. To enjoy fully set your Kindle to publishers fonts
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on 9 March 2014
My own family has been touched by mental illness, with a sister who experiences schizophrenia, and a father (now deceased) who had severe depression, so this for me was a much read, and a poignant one at that, having recently re-established contact with said sister.

It was for me then a somewhat difficult and challenging read, written as it is from the perspective of the experiencer. I choose to use this word rather than sufferer because of its negative conations. We are introduced to Matt and his brother Simon, who has Downs syndrome at the beginning of the book, on a typical seaside family holiday. The title of the book comes from what happens next when Matt encounters a young girl who is burying her doll - it later turns out this doll is symbolic of the girls mother who has herself recently died. Matt reaches out to comfort the girl and falls, and the story goes on from there. I will not say too much more as it would only act as a spoiler.

The book though focusses very much on the effects that Matt's illness has on him - its symptoms and its causes, most of which only become clear towards the end. This is why I found it as times such uncomfortable reading, but I persevered and am glad that I did.

There is no happy ending for Matt, and he does not get miraculously better, but he does in his own way come to terms with what happened to his brother and the role that he played in this. In the process of doing this he also manages to mend relationships with the rest of his family and help them.

I can see exactly why this book won the Costa Prize and cannot think of a more worthy winner. This for me would also unhesitatingly be 5 stars.
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on 24 March 2014
I liked this book very much. I felt so much sympathy for Matt and could almost feel his frustration with the mental health system. What really struck me was the patients being referred to as "Service Users" completely dehumanising them. My mother was in a residential home several years before she died and the carers there were told that the residents should be called "service users" and not residents. I was appalled and had a word with the head of the home and the social service department to ask if they realised that the residents in their care considered the home as their homes and for most it would be the last home they had.
I would certainly recommend this book.
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on 12 May 2017
The story was ok but I was never convinced that I was reading the words of someone suffering from a serious mental illness. It was a bit cheesy.
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on 30 August 2017
There are no huge moments in this book, even though (having very recently and suddenly lost my wonderful dad) death is huge; and likewise mental health is a matter that is intense and should be taken seriously. Nevertheless ,in this book there is a gentleness and calmness and an acceptance of the human spirit, with its strengths and its faults, that shows together we can stumble on.
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on 14 February 2014
Bought this book as it was the Costa Coffee Book Award winner.
This is an excellent read. So much so that I was sorry when it was finished.
It is well written, in the first person, and is totally absorbing once started.
Made me laugh and cry throughout.
I would definitely recommend this book.
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on 30 March 2015
I wasnt fond of the writing style, it reminded me of 'The Incident of the Dog in the Night Time', I found the way that was written was unenjoyable too.
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