"He was fine some of the time, yes. But his mood could plummet at any moment. I wondered what that must be like for him.
I was very keen to read this novel when I heard about it. At the same time I was hesitant because it deals with issues that affect me personally and that I strongly identify with. With this in mind I did wonder how it would make me feel. I was very moved by it and it did affect me, it made me cry and it made me think; the author has understood depression and has conveyed it incredibly well. Aspects of the story were closer to home than I could have predicted.
It tells the story of Emma, her brothers Jamie and Kit and her parents Joe and Rose. One of Emma's brothers died five years ago, and the other left the family home on the day of the funeral and never returned. Emma's parents haven't told her what actually happened, and never talk about it. The immense impact of past events is finally exposed as what happens next brings it out into focus for all of them.
Emma is a lovely character who drives much of the story forward. I liked her and I felt for her. She is sweet and sensitive and is being bullied at school. She can't understand why Jamie hasn't been in touch since Kit's death. This separation of the younger sister from her older brother with her not knowing why broke my heart. Her memories of time spent with her brothers are so important to her, but she has begun to question them:
"She clung on to memories like this, but it had occurred to her recently that perhaps they couldn't be trusted. If enough time went by, how could you be sure what was actually true and what you had imagined? Especially if nobody talked about any of it.
It's almost impossible for Emma to talk about Jamie leaving or Kit's death with her parents because of the extreme reactions it provokes; she feels has been left alone with her thoughts. Rebecca Wait captures so well the complexity and pain of those left behind. Jamie has a great deal to cope with, and I was incredibly drawn to him. I thought Joe’s character was also particularly well written and I thought the portrayal of his feelings, was also particularly convincing.
"...he did nothing, simply carried on as before. Head down, struggling through the days. Keeping going, getting through. He'd always known, without having to consider it, that there was no chance of recovery. Not for him, not for any of them. The passing years hadn't changed a thing. There was no getting over this.
The conclusion felt right to me and I'm glad the story ended as it did.
The View on the Way Down is a beautifully written debut novel, and Rebecca Wait sensitively portrays painful, harsh truths about depression. It remains a compelling, vital story throughout that the reader has to finish.
This story is sad, tender, raw and painful but it is also warm and hopeful. It is heartbreaking, vivid and it feels very real. I felt so involved with this story as I read it, I felt the agonies of this family, I was moved by the characters and I found myself thinking about them after closing the pages. I read the book in one day; it's very rare for me to manage that.
Evidently Rebecca Wait knows subject matter she is writing about here; there were moments that I felt were so accurate, heartfelt and true. It had a powerful effect on me to feel the strength and honesty in her words. It's an important story, told very well. The writing is light and understated yet incisive. The author has a deft touch whether writing about the everyday or the extreme.
It's so special to read a book that actually reminds you why you love reading so much. To read a book that you connect with, that takes you away from your world and into a story that you are deeply moved by. That makes you feel that you are not alone in the world and not alone with your feelings.
I hope I have done this book some justice in my review. I think there is so much more I could say, but in the end all I can say is I thought it was an amazing, accomplished debut and please do read it.