Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: Where the Moon Isn't


Where the Moon Isn'tAuthor: 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 Sleep

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.

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.

26 comments:

  1. I haven't heard of this book before, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy, though I'm hesitant about approaching this subject matter. Knowing your aversion to issue books, however, I have a feeling I'll wind up picking this up whenever I can find it. Great review, Maja - thanks for putting this one on my radar.

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  2. I hadn't heard about this book before, but with such a wonderful review I know I need to add it to the TBR list!
    Thank you for sharing this debut, Maja!

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  3. I really like books that explore mental illness both chaotically and realistically, because it is never a simple thing to experience or to fix. Your first sentence hooked me completely and now I can't wait to read this book and experience it for myself!

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  4. While this sounds like it's pretty far out of my comfort zone, it does sound intriguing. Total respect for a new author who can come out of the gate with something like this story.

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  5. I love hearing about unfamiliar books that turn out to be special and amazing. I really want to read this now. Although when I first glanced at the author's name I swear I saw " Nathan Fillion"!! LOL!

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  6. I love hearing about unfamiliar books that turn out to be special and amazing. I really want to read this now. Although when I first glanced at the author's name I swear I saw " Nathan Fillion"!! LOL!

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  7. I knew that this book would be beautifully written from the title. It's so poetic. I have seen this one around and it sounds like a great read. I'm so happy you enjoyed it and I cannot wait to read it. Great review, Maja :)

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  8. This doesn't sound like something I would read but your review makes me want to read it. It sounds beautiful and different. Great review!

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  9. Oh my this sounds like an emotional read and one that was done beautifully! I have read a few books about mental illness and really liked them when they are done well. This approach sounds completely unique and wonderful.

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  10. Wow this sounds fascinating! I see this cover all the time and it always catches my eye, but I have never picked it up to find out what it was about, I am kicking myself for that now. It sounds like this is one that I would absolutely love. So happy you had such a successful reading experience with this one, Maja!

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  11. This is pretty far outside my typical reading box Maja, but it sounds extraordinary. I always love when we get to spend time with an unreliable narrator, it just make the reading of the story so interesting because I'm constantly wondering what's actually real and what's only real to them. I'm definitely curious to see how this one ends too, I'm sensing it's not going to be an overly happy conclusion!

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  12. This sounds really interesting! I love books where the main character is continually exposing himself as the author - it makes the reading process very interesting. I'm curious about Matthew's insanity, though. It sounds very confusing. I think I may have to check this one out! Awesome review, Maja!

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  13. I love an unreliable narrator, and this has me curious. I love when I am never quite sure what is real and what is just in the character'd mind. This sounds fresh and different and one I would like to explore.

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  14. oh wow the character sounds different! and wonderful. I love the sound of this book. I agree with Kim, it does sound very fresh and different! Kudo's for writing a book about mental illness. I always enjoy beautiful writing!

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  15. wow you really makes me want to read this book now. I think I saw the cover a few times but no reviews and now I'm intrigued. thank you for your nice review!

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  16. This descent into mental illness sounds like a great debut

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  17. Hm, I have not heard about this one. So I am not sure but it sounds interesting

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  18. i would much rather read this type of emotional book rather than all tthese Na book ss out there. I am fascinated by mental illness perhaps that is why I have a degree in psychology. I would certainly love to read this. Sorry abou thte typos today, blog is behaving badly again.

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  19. This sounds so amazingly different. Very curious how it reads with the protag as a mentally ill person. Oh and left you stunned? I know it must be amazeballs! Adding this one to my wishlist pronto!

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  20. I've never heard of this book before, but I'm definitely intrigued now! The concept of reading a book through the eyes of an unique MC, in this case mentally ill, always fascinates me :D

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  21. wow, this book is new to me. It sounds amazing though. I'm so curious to meet this character now.

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  22. Usually I'm not a fan of second person narrative but I think in this one especially the shock value is enough to keep me hooked to this story. I love the quote you shared, that alone males me want to give this book a shot. Thanks for sharing, Maja! Great review!

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  23. I do love reading books with unreliable narrators, it adds an extra layer of mystery to even the most emotional stories. It sounds like this one is going to be quite emotional, but well worth it. I hadn't heard anything about this one before your lovely review, so thank you for introducing me to it! I've got it on my TBR wish list now.

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  24. Wow, this sounds fascinating! And unreliable narrators are nice because I like to be surprised. I hadn't heard of this before but I have family and a friend with schizophrenia so it's a subject I can relate to.

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  25. This actually sounds pretty amazing. I don't usually read a lot of books dealing with mental illnesses and I feel like maybe I should. And an unreliable narrator sounds interesting, I've read too many predictable books lately.

    Great review Maja! :)

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  26. Wow. I can safely say I have never before read anything even remotely similar to this. I mean, what a unique speaker and point of view! I bet this one would be insanely memorable for me, just as I am sure it was with you. Thank you so much for putting this one on my radar, Maja. I wouldn't have known about it otherwise!

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