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This is a book that packs a lot of emotional punch in less than 8 hours - truly poignant and yet avoids being maudlin or manipulative. I am in awe of the ability of this young author to so clearly convey the feeling of deep depression from the POV of the sufferer while at the same time so skillfully demonstrating the devastating impact this affliction has on anyone who loves someone in the throes of depression. But that's not all - this very insightful view of depression and its painful rippling affects is presented in a beautifully written book that is NOT depressing. It is definitely moving, sometimes quite sad, but there is humor and ultimately a kind of genuine hopefulness that runs through the novel that makes it a book that's good and good for you.
When we meet Emma and her family, it is 5 years after the death of Emma's oldest brother Kit. 14-year-old Emma and her mother and father live under one roof, but barely function as a family; middle brother Jamie is completely estranged from the family. The plot line becomes not so much what happens from there, but how these characters deal with what has already happened and whether they can find a way to move forward together.
The novel is primarily relayed in 3rd person and rotates POV among the primary characters with one epistolary section - Jamie's letters to his father. As the point of view shifts, Wait unobtrusively builds empathy for each character in turn and you realize as you meet each of these people that what looked like unattractive character flaws in each person (overeating, shyness, isolationism, anger, panic, denial, OCD, etc.) when viewed from the outside were, in fact, coping mechanisms of the walking wounded. None of these emotional crutches truly worked toward healing, but they did allow each person to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And when the coping mechanisms begin to fail, the family faces a second crisis which ultimately brings them to the climax of the novel. These characters are brilliant. I not only recognized this people, I've been these people.
Fortunately this lovely book was afforded some lovely narrators; this is a good audio production.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
The View on the Way Down is about the different ways grief and loss affect the lives of the family left behind. The publishers summary makes it clear that one of teenage Emma's brothers has died and part 1 is told from her point of view. Bullied at school, disillusioned with God and becoming ever more miserable at home, she turns to food for comfort. Emma's parents response to the tragedy is to retreat into their own misery barely acknowledging each other or Emma. They are all estranged from the surviving brother.
Put this way, the story sounds simplistic. But don't be fooled by the simple almost gentle way the story unfolds. This book is powerful. It is well researched beautifully written and expertly narrated. I highly recommend this truly amazing story from first time author 25 year old Rebecca Wait. She apparently wrote The View on the Way Down in the evening while working as a teachers assistant. I eagerly await her next novel.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Five star audio books come along so infrequently that I felt I needed to review this one. This story is so compelling that I have been unable to walk away, listening to it in less than 24 hours.
To simplify it is to say that it is about depression, tragedy, bullying and one family's inability to communicate – which makes it all sound very bleak. But among the tragedy it is chock full of hope, with beautiful observations of human nature as we bump and jostle one another whilst trying to make meaningful connections, fail and still go on to try again.
It is sad, and it did make me cry as I listened. It doesn't pretend to give any easy answers to the individual personal tragedies of the protagonists, but, in the end, it does offer a quiet form of unity between them and a way forward for them all.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Like many of my listens I was introduced to this by an interview with the author on 'Woman's Hour'. I found the author rather inspiring and was keen to listen to this, her debut novel. It is a brilliant debut and well worth a listen. Her portrayal of a family in crisis and how the past tragedy has affected them all is excellent. It is well written in a simplistic but compelling style and is moving, heartbreaking and real. It is a book that will stay with you long after listening.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful