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What We’re Reading: Where the Moon Isn’t

Post by Shauna Griffin
Posted May 23, 2014 in NoveList Bookshelf

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Where the Moon Isn't 

by Nathan Filer

What is it about?
Matthew grew up in a fairly normal household that was completely destroyed by his brother’s accidental death when they were both kids. But Matthew, who at 19 suffers from mental illness and still carries some guilt for the accident, believes he’s still alive – or at least isn’t “gone.” The story itself is narrated by Matthew, who speaks directly to his readers, and while he’s not the most reliable or straightforward of narrators, you’ll get an incredibly strong, realistic perception of a young man who struggles daily with his disease – and the role of the disease in damaging his relationships with his friends and family. 

Why I like it: 
This book packs an incredible emotional wallop. When I finished it, it was shocking to look around at all the people who were going about their business, completely unaware that the world had totally and irrevocably changed (for me, anyway) because this book was in it. Does anyone else ever feel that way when finishing powerful stories? It’s cleverly and smartly written, incredibly so, actually, given the narrator, but I also think it was just the outright emotional honesty that the main character strove for as well as his efforts to regain some semblance of normalcy that touched me so much. The story wasn't over just because I finished what was written; Matthew is still out there fighting his demons.

I also enjoyed the different fonts and formats (and illustrations) and the non-chronological flow of the novel. They all added to the unsettled feeling of following along on a schizophrenic young man’s journey -- his voice is incredibly charming, in its way. 

Interesting tidbit: 
The author has spent several years working as a mental health nurse; his incredible understanding of and compassion for Matthew is no doubt due to those experiences. 

"I'd recommend this book to…"
Liz Moore’s Heft is the only other book that has affected me so much. I highly recommend both (with a break in between). But I’ve also been recommending this book to anyone who’ll stand still, especially those who I know loves achingly well-depicted stories of characters struggling with their place in the world.

Memorable quote:

“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.”

Recommended by Shauna Griffin, NextReads/ADEPT Supervisor.