While on vacation with their parents, Matthew Homes and his older brother snuck out in the middle of the night. Only Matthew came home safely. Ten years later, Matthew tells us, he has found a way to bring his brother back…
What begins as the story of a lost boy turns into a story of a brave man yearning to understand what happened that night, in the years since, and to his very person. Unafraid to look at the shadows of our hearts, Nathan Filer’s rare and brilliant debut Where the Moon Isn’t shows us the strength that is rooted in resilience and love.
Source: ARC from St. Martin’s Press for review purposes
NOTE: This book was originally supposed to be titled Where the Moon Isn’t
Matthew sees his brother everywhere. Simon calls to him, wants him to come play. The problem is that Simon’s been dead for ten years.
Matthew is a mentally ill nineteen year old and he’s angry and sad and feels unimaginable guilt. He tries to hold it together for his family, though his relationship with his parents has deteriorated. This is Matt’s story about what happened the night his brother died and Matthew’s role in Simon’s death. Matthew’s working through his guilt by writing it all out so that maybe Simon can forgive him and there will be a record of what happened when Matthew finally decides to listen to Simon and join his brother.
This story is very sad. The loss of a child or sibling is, of course, heartbreaking, but there are so many things here that make the story that much more…more shattering. Simon had Down’s Syndrome and was often unintentionally the center of attention, which made Matt a bit envious. Everything that follows Simon’s death could be an effect of the death and Matt’s guilt, but it could also be a symptom of an inevitable family curse that shows itself when faced with signifcant emotional trauma. Matthew’s honesty with his audience/the reader is what is allowing him to finally come to terms with what happened all those years ago.
This is a beautifully written confession/diary of a man/boy whose need to forgive himself is more important than outside redemption. As a parent, it was difficult to watch Matt go from being a sweet, fun-loving kid to an angry teenager wracked by guilt and using alcohol and drugs to cope. There are bright spots here that made me optimistic and hopeful for Matt and his family, so it’s not completely depressing and sad. The Shock of the Fall has lived up to all the hype that I’ve seen directed at it. Definitely worth reading. Though Matt has mental issues, he is completely aware of his shortcomings and never shys away from being honest with himself and his audience.