Review: The View on the Way Down
Jamie’s estranged from his family but, despite his mother, father and sister living together, they almost seem estranged from one another as well. The reason? The death of Jamie’s brother, Kit, has created a huge rift. Grief, blame, and recriminations have pulled a grief stricken family further apart.
This is one of those reads where you know the book is leading up to something truly tragic and sad. There are hints throughout the book of what will happen and the tension is enhanced through letters and memories shared. The fact that you are quite sure you know what is going to happen and, in fact, the reality seems so much worse when you arrive makes this an incredibly emotive book. It was necessary for me to stop reading for 24 hours having cried almost an hour after reaching a particular section.
I cried because the events are sad but also because this book is so beautifully written and so accurately portrays some of the feelings I’ve had myself. Depression can be incredibly painful and isolating and no more so than because it is so misunderstood and so often seen as something we can easily fix ourselves. This beautiful betrayal of Jamie’s brother as struggling with the pain that takes over his whole life is so well written and one of the most eloquent narratives about life with severe depression that I have ever read.
There are those that may argue that this book does not offer enough hope, either for families dealing with depression or dealing with grief. However, this is not a book about giving up; this is a book about understanding about fighting as much as you can for as long as you can. It is a book with many questions about what is right, what is wrong, with who is left to make decisions, to pick up the pieces.
Mostly the overwhelming message for me was that depression is a disease. Like many diseases it can be fatal but unlike many diseases we – as a society – talk so little about it and have so little empathy towards the people suffering. This is by no means an easy read. So beautifully written and well paced, it would require a heart of stone not to be moved by the issues raised in this book.
The glimmer of light to me as someone who has suffered with severe depression on and off for over a decade was reading something that expresses how dark it can be in such beautiful and eloquent terms. This book does not make me want to give up. In fact, it gives me hope that this is finally a dialogue we may begin, to hope that we may finally understand that this is not just something that ‘chin up’, a cup of tea and ‘keep on smiling’ can address.
My personal experiences aside, this is an incredible work of fiction. The book’s title says it all: The View on the Way Down is dark and the simple eloquence of this title is echoed throughout the book. A must read… with tissues.