About me · Aging · anxiety · Book of the Week · Reading · weight loss

Sunday Book Club: Shock of the Fall

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Where does time go?  It seems there are never enough hours in the day.  I’ve been struggling a little lately, mostly with the worry that I am not enough.  I’m finding myself floundering about, really not being good enough at any of my roles right now.  It causes my anxiety to grow, and to push me into a depression.

Coming up this week I hope to start my weight loss accountability.  I have been trying for months to lose quite a bit of weight, and it just isn’t coming off.  I’m going to try some new things and really focus on getting back on track.  I just don’t feel comfortable in my own skin, you know?  I just don’t feel like me.  So watch for that (hopefully!) next week.

On to the book discussion!

On the surface, The Shock of the Fall seems to be a mystery novel–what happened to Matthew Homes’ Down Syndrome brother Simon?  Only Matthew knows what truly happens…DUM DUM DUM.

But while that plays a large role, the book is mainly about Matthew.  How Matthew struggles, how he is trying to piece his life back together after he lost a brother he deeply loved.  He spirals into mental illness–severe mental illness–and the story becomes Matthew’s story.  The mystery of Simon takes a backseat, although remains present, while the deterioration of Matthew becomes more and more prominent.

The book takes place in the UK, so many of the issues brought up in the book as far as government funding of programs for mental illness and other regulations are slightly different than what we are dealing with in the US, but overall, the focus of the book is about mental illness and the ridiculously small amount of attention and funding it receives.  We watch Matthew slowly succumb to his disease, not fully realizing how far gone he is.  His grief is overwhelming, his loneliness is palpable, the loss of his family and friends is omnipresent, his guilt is tangible.  No one quite knows how to help him, and Matthew has no idea how to help himself.

When we do finally understand what did happen to Simon and Matthew’s role in it, it is pathetic and vulnerable.  Matthew’s descent into severe mental illness seems to be his atonement for something he did as a child; something he really shouldn’t have to repent for in the first place.

It is a difficult read, an uncomfortable one, and a journey into the mind of a schizophrenic young man.  Yet it will haunt you; Matthew’s illness and humor and at times clarity of thought will stay with you.

Next week’s book: More dystopian fun with Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

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