With an average rating of 4.5 out of 5, this debut novel won high marks with many BookBrowse readers.
Many readers gave it a thumbs up for an arresting plotline:
This powerful novel by Nathan Filer tells nineteen-year-old Matthew Homes' harrowing story. As Matt battles schizophrenia - and all the ensuing humiliations, setbacks, and attitudes surrounding mental illness - he is on a quest to discover what actually happened on a holiday night at the beach in Ocean Cove Park nine years earlier. On this night Matt's older brother Simon, a Down syndrome child with "a beautiful smiling face that looked like the moon," dies. For the next ten years, guilt-ridden Matt fights his way through the past to understanding and redemption (Carole C).
Sensitive topics are beautifully handled:
The way the author takes you inside the mind of a mentally ill Matthew to experience his troubles firsthand makes for some heavy soul-searching on the part of the reader (Sharon A). I got chills as I recognized pieces of my own son with Down syndrome in Simon Homes. The author deals with sensitive topics of disorders and mental illness, and writes a page-turning novel that is both unflinching and compassionate, tender and tragic, heartbreaking and funny. I will not soon forget this story. Excellent. (Lisa M).
Many found the writing style to be engaging:
Nathan Filer's book demonstrates a powerful writing style with a lot of nuances in the chapter titles, drawings and typeface. This is definitely a tough read, but an eye-opening one too. (Sharon A). This debut novel is a jigsaw puzzle that catches your attention at the beginning and proceeds to put the pieces in place as the pages are turned. The author puts you into Matthew's mind and from that vantage point, all the other characters, their experiences and their foibles are explained. (Mary Margaret F).
A couple of readers however, didn't warm up to the style:
This was a difficult read for me because Matthew's thoughts and narration are somewhat disjointed - at times I felt like I was plodding through it, which is not my favorite way to read. (MaryEllen K).
Overall, readers found the story to be deeply affecting and gripping:
A book that teaches about other peoples frailties and differences and leads to a better understanding of their story is one that stays with me. This is one such book. I absolutely loved it (Maggie S). It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. The story is heartbreaking but poignant, filled with love and revelations. I was enthralled at the opportunity to delve into the mind of a person with mental illness and see the trajectory of his disorder. Great book that I will wholeheartedly recommend to friends (Yvette T).
This review was originally published in January 2014, and has been updated for the October 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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