‘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.’
It has been a long time since anything has left me a sobbing mess. But, after finishing this 307 page emotional rollercoaster, I can pretty much guarantee that anyone with stocks in Kleenex will be happy. This novel is one that not only sticks with you, but shapes you and changes you into a person better-off than before. The harsh reality of mental illness is explored and the dark depths of obsession, schizophrenia, and unrelenting grief brought to light in what I believe is one of the best books I have ever read.
The story follows the life of Matthew Homes, a young man tormented with grief over the death of his brother Simon and plagued by schizophrenia, a mental illness frequently characterised by audiovisual hallucinations. The novel does not follow a strict timeline, adding to the feel of impulsiveness and randomness that Matt himself experiences constantly. A chapter may span as many as ten or more pages, or as little half a page with illustrations, and yet you are never left feeling cheated out of an experience, never left angry at the author for being brief.
Filer creates a suspense that I have not felt in a book in many, many years; creating a page-turning, excitement-riddled, ‘holy-crap-it-has-been-five-hours-where-has-the-time-gone’ experience that is hard to resist and impossible to put down. You will find yourself becoming emotionally invested in every character; feeling love for his mother, his Nanny Noo, his father, and, most intensely, his brother Simon.
I want to keep writing. I want to keep telling you all how amazing this book is, how life-changing and stereotype-shattering it is, but I won’t. What I will tell you is that you need to read this book. Loan it from the library. Buy it from your local book shop. Request it for a gift from your partner or mate (cheers Dan). Read this book, experience it, and thank me later.
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