Thursday, September 11, 2014
Bookin' It: Where the Moon Isn't by Nathan Filer
Author: Nathan Filer
1 sentence summary: Where the Moon Isn't: A Novel chronicles a young man's grief over the loss of his brother while he learns to cope with the onset of schizophrenia.
Setting: Modern day Bristol, England
Main Character: Matthew Homes, age 18, and his illness.
Themes: grief, family, mental illness, coming of age, writing and storytelling
What I loved:
Filer does a fantastic job of evoking a sense of empathy. The story is told from the first person perspective of Matthew Homes, and the fact that he has schizophrenia has a huge impact on that perspective. I think that the reason the first person POV is so important in this novel is because it allows the reader to imagine what it would be like to see the world as someone with schizophrenia might see it--to imagine the frustrations and the triumphs of everyday life, when managing your mind is a full-time job.
"I should say that I am not a nice person" is the perfect first sentence for this novel, because a large part of Matt's struggle is with the impact of his illness on his loved ones. There are times when he is truly mean and downright selfish, and the fact that it's hard for his family and friends to be around him is not lost on him. "Mental illness" he says "turns people inwards . . . It keeps us forever trapped by the pain of our own minds" (277).
Everyone has their battles, to be sure. I think that the gut-wrenching thing about mental illness is that the thing you're struggling against isn't external. You can't can't necessarily point towards a villain or circumstance outside of yourself. At one point, a care worker at Matt's mental health facility tells him the he is is own worst enemy, something that is painfully obvious to him: "Of course I'm my own worst enemy. That's the whole problem" (231).
Ugh, I expended like 250 ml of tears. That said, Filer leaves room for humor and suspense, and even if you're not passionate about the heavy themes, it is a really great story.
Drugs and Alcohol: yes
Read it if you liked: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, Theft by Peter Carey, A Complicated Kindness: A Novel by Miriam Toews, or The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.