Book Review: The Shock Of The Fall

‘The Shock Of The Fall’ by Nathan Filer is a book of a young man’s struggle with mental health.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a while since I’ve managed to finish reading a book. I’m one of them ‘casual readers’ who has about 20 books on the go, and never seems to finish it.

I’m always jealous of anyone who is capable of reading a book really quickly, I always seem to take a lifetime to get through 300 pages. In a bid to change my lacklustre reading habits, I’ve been trying to get back into the book game.

I recently heard about ‘The Shock Of The Fall’ through a recommendation on Twitter from author Matt Haig. As a writer who has spoken about themes of mental illness in the past, Haig praised this book for its treatment of mental health and that was enough of a sell for me – coming at just the right time for me to find a new book to read.

‘The Shock Of The Fall’ is the debut novel from Nathan Filer, who just so happens to be a registered mental health nurse amongst other things. Considering this is his first ever novel, it’s done extremely well as the cover of the book notifies me that it has won Costa’s ‘Book of the Year’ award.

The book follows a young boy called Matthew, and is told exclusively through the form of personal writings, correspondence, and flashbacks of the main character himself. Quite creatively, there are a number of different font changes and illustrations throughout to add to the sense that you are reading through a folder of notes.

At the age of nine, a fatal accident has happened to Matthew’s brother, Simon. It’s this event in Matthew’s life that triggers the rest of the story. Matt is 19 now, and is trying to come to terms with what happened and figure things out.

As the story is told from Matthew himself, we learn first-hand about his thoughts, feelings, and internal scars. We are with him every step of his journey as people around him try to help, or don’t quite understand the position he’s in. It’s because of this narrative that makes the story so deeply-moving and affecting.

We grow to understand Matthew’s thought-process and, through flashbacks, more of the event that happened with his brother and just what extent it’s had on Matthew. Whilst ‘The Shock Of The Fall’ is emotional, there are also times when it can be extremely funny too – all down to the humanisation of Matthew that Filer has been able to create.

Anyone who has or is suffering from some form of mental illness will probably find something they can relate to with Matthew’s story – whether they have struggled with similar issues that he has or not.

The fact that Filer has an understanding of mental illness and a background of working with people suffering from it makes the story even more real and affecting.

Matthew’s struggle is by no means filtered out, it’s raw and messy. That’s something I admired about this book. I have read books in the past where things are neatly wrapped-up to the point that it’s somewhat unrealistic. Not everybody gets to have a ‘fairytale ending’. There is no rose-tinted filter here. It’s a real look at mental health and how people struggle.

I really enjoyed ‘The Shock Of The Fall’. In fact, I finished reading it before the week was over. I was hooked into Matthew’s story immediately, and didn’t look back. There were times I got emotional and felt for the characters, and there were times I were laughing with them.

The book has been out since 2014, so chances are you may have heard of it or already read it. If you’re only just discovering it, like I had, then you’re in for a real treat. I would definitely recommend it.

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