Title: The Shock of the Fall
Author: Nathan File
“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.”
A perfect read for…
I wracked my brains for a while about where I could imagine myself reading this book on one of my trips and to be honest, I really couldn’t pin point any particular trip or travel occasion which I felt was really appropriate for reading this book. I actually read it commuting to work in London in early October, it was dark, wet and grey and I think that actually suited the mood of the book.
So, perhaps that’s the type of occasion where I would suggest reading this book, for those long coach rides, flights or transfers. The ones which you’re really dreading and need something to distract you for a few hours.
Who would I recommend this book for…
I think this book is great for anyone who likes complex, well developed characters. The main protagonist Matthew Holmes (Matt), is slowly revealed to readers layer by layer and you can tell that Nathan Filer spent a lot of time and effort ensuring that Matt was a fully formed character.
The premise of the book follows Matt as he writes ‘his story’ in the wake of his brothers death, and we learn more about Matt, his grief and his mental health through his stories. Matts condition (purposely not naming to try and avoid spoilers) is really the centre piece of the book. So I would really recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in understanding more about mental health issues, the perspective of someone who suffers with a mental health issue and the experiences they go through as a result of this.
In my opinion, everyone could do with giving this a read. However, if you don’t like slightly darker books or this subject is not of interest to you, then I would recommend leaving this one on the shelf.
I actually took quite a while to get into this book, I think I read about 20 pages and then didn’t pick it back up for about 3 weeks, came back to it again for another 20-30 pages and then forgot about it again for another few weeks. (In all honesty, I probably got into a Netflix series so switched from reading books on my commute to watching TV – a habit I’m trying really hard to break. This is also why I like reading whilst I’m travelling, as this is the only time I read consistently).
When I picked the book back up for the third time, I’d finally made it into the chapters were Matt was recalling his more recent memories as a 19 year old, as opposed to his memories of him as a child. Now, this is where the book really got interesting for me as this is where Matt’s mental condition really starts revealing itself, Nathan does a great job of drip feeding information about this as the book goes on, it was at this point I read the book consistently, and finished it in about 2 days. – So even if it is a slow burner, maybe stick with it for a while. As for me, it didn’t really pick up until a few chapters in.
Nathan is a mental health nurse and his obvious knowledge and experience in this area is apparent when you read the book. Having also worked as a support worker there were particular passages in the book which I read and thought were so authentic that it could only have been written by someone who has experienced it first hand.
‘They have a bunch of names for us. Service Users must be the latest. I think there must be people who get paid to decide this shit. I thought about Steve. He’s definitely the sort to say Service User. He’d say it like he deserved a knighthood for being all sensitive and empowering”.
This was undoubtedly the most unique book I have ever read, firstly and most probably because I had never read a book about this subject before, a subject which is of much interest to me. The Shock of the Fall provides a touching and empathetic insight into this topic. This is highlighted further by how the passages are presented in the book, a mixture of hand drawn doodles, pages written in his type writer and his computer at Hope Road Day Centre.
The wider story line itself wasn’t the most amazing thing I’d ever read and the end of the book just seemed to fizzle out. As I was going through the book I wasn’t particularly interested in finding out the big reveal of Simon’s death, which is kept hidden from the readers until the end of the book. Instead, I turned the pages for the moments in the book where Nathan digs deeper into Matts character and his experiences of being institutionalised. For me this is where the book really shines and exemplifies why it was awarded the Costa book of the year award.