Author: Nathan Filer
Published: November 5th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Hardcover, 308 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
"A stunning novel. Ambitious and exquisitely realized . . . clearly the work of a major new talent." —S. J. Watson, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to SleepWhile 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.
Nathan Filer’s debut stunned me and left me speechless. It’s been a long time since I read something so beautifully written.
Where the Moon Isn’t is a story told by Matthew Homes, a mentally ill nineteen-year-old. It’s a metafictional novel, as Matthew constantly and intentionally exposes himself as the author and communicates openly with the readers. He provides excuses when he’s unable to explain something or offer further details. He makes constant remarks about his mental stability, and his reasons for writing the story.
Matthew’s problems started when he lost his older brother Simon. Simon was a child with special needs and Matt often resented him for being the center of their parents’ attention. But when Simon died in an accident partly caused by Matthew, he kept on living in Matthews head, a product of his guilt and schizophrenia combined.
From the start, Matthew’s placement in the mental institution and his slightly odd storytelling hint at the possibility that he’s not the most reliable of narrators. It is almost impossible to discern which parts of his story are true, and which are the product of a damaged mind. Matthew is only nineteen, extremely vulnerable, and his thoughts are all over the place, jumping through space and time from one short chapter to the next. But still, it’s his unforgettable voice that holds this narrative together firmly and effortlessly.
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.
As Matthew's mental health deteriorates, his narration becomes less coherent, often making no sense whatsoever. His relationships with family and his only friend go downhill fast, because, as Matt himself keeps pointing out, schizophrenia is a selfish illness. There is a lot of resentment between Matt and his parents. His early teen years were rebellious, probably because the schizophrenia already affected his moods, and he made life difficult for everyone, himself included. Even though Matthew grows in this story, his mental illness isn’t taken lightly as something that can be fixed overnight. It is a constant, life-long struggle one needs to accept and make peace with.
Nathan Filer is a brilliant young author with so much to offer. His first novel is endearingly odd and in many ways spectacular. I simply can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with next.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.