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Where the Moon Isn't: A Novel Hardcover – November 5, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1ST edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250026989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250026989
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nineteen-year-old Matthew is writing the story of his life and that of his older brother, Simon, who had Down syndrome. Simon, Matthew writes, had a beautiful smiley face like the moon. But thinking about the past is like digging up graves, for Simon died in an accident when he was 11, and Matthew, 10 years later, still blames himself for his brother’s death. Although the moon that was Simon’s face now isn’t, Matthew continues to hear his voice where he is being kept in an acute psychiatric ward. For Matthew is schizophrenic. Mental illness turns people inwards, he writes. Will writing about what he finds there offer him healing and relief from his guilt? British first-novelist Filer is a mental-health nurse who, having worked as a researcher on inpatient psychiatric wards, writes with authority and sympathy about schizophrenia and Matthew’s life as both inpatient and outpatient. The story Filer tells is deeply affecting and insightful in its account of mental illness. And Matthew is a character the reader won’t soon forget. --Michael Cart

Review

“WHERE THE MOON ISN’T is a stunning novel. Ambitious and exquisitely realized, it's by turns shocking, harrowing and heartrending. The writing is so accomplished it's hard to believe it's a debut -- it's clearly the work of a major new talent.” --S.J. Watson, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep

"A page-turner, tender and tragic, told in a vulnerable voice that steps in and out of madness.  Vivid and haunting, I keep replaying this story in my mind, reliving it, long after having read the final page."
--Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Love Anthony

“I have become an evangelist for Where the Moon Isn’t. It won me heart and soul with it’s crazy, wild, fine voice, its bravura, its ambition, its harrowing corners, and the dense rich tiny core of love at its glowing, radiant center.  In Matthew’s admittedly hard world, the tiniest kindnesses echo and amplify, returning to him larger and louder, until they each become glorious---huge bursts of such grace and truth that more than once, I had to stop reading and weep at the sheer hope-soaked beauty of it. I loved this book cover to cover and word by word;  I want to give it to everyone I care for, and I want to keep it for myself to reread over and over. You will, too.” --Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty

"Original and affecting.  Filer's ability to capture Matthew's voice shows a special talent." --Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

"In the ruins of a family exploded by grief, a brilliant madman wrestles a narrative from his disintegrated life. What emerges is both quietly horrifying and surprisingly beautiful: a portrait of family love. Unsentimental, frank, and strange, Filer's narrator is the most likable nut since Kesey's ‘Chief.’ He's funny and sad and mad, and he brought me through smiles to tears and back. What moved me the most however was not the tragedy at the story's center, but the sketches Filer draws around the edges: the mother losing her grip from holding too tight, the father stalwartly supporting his sons, the girl who stands up for what she has lost. Memories can destroy or redeem you, depending on how you recreate them. Who better to teach this lesson than a lunatic? I can't stop talking about this book. Looking for a fantastic read, a few laughs and a good cry? You've found it. Where The Moon Isn't is a fresh smart book with a big daft heart." --Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

"A terrific debut: engaging, funny and inventive.” -- Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine

“A unique new voice, that in its humour, stark honesty and intriguing mix of bitterness and humanity will touch the hearts of every reader. A haunting, beautiful, unputdownable debut.”
 --Abigail Tarttelin, author of Golden Boy

“Nathan Filer has done something special. It’s rare that an author offers such an authentic and unflinching view into the mind of a character; Matthew Homes is as fully realized a protagonist as I have ever encountered. It won’t take long for readers to fall in love.” --Matthew Dicks, author of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

"A heartfelt story of a family learning to pick up the pieces in the wake of tragedy . . . the voice always felt real and authentic. I ached for Matthew and his family and was thoroughly captivated by their story." –Real Simple

"Skillfully done books transcend age categories. This helps explain the success of such books as ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ and the endurance of ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ ‘Where the Moon Isn’t’ is indeed skillfully done, with drama enough to lure teen readers and sophistication enough to keep adults entranced." –Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The story Filer tells is deeply affecting and insightful in its account of mental illness. And Matthew is a character the reader won’t soon forget.” – Booklist

“A startlingly authentic portrayal of the rigors and tribulations of navigating the modern health care landscape while struggling with mental illness . . . works on many levels – as family drama, as a searing indictment of Western health care and as a confession. A haunting story about how to mourn when the source of your grief will never go away.” –Kirkus

“In this very assured debut, performance poet and mental-health nurse Filer shows that he knows what he’s writing about. It should prove catnip to book group participants (especially those who loved Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and will appeal to anyone looking for a serious (but not ponderous) story that’s impossible to put down. Readers might even end up seeing some similarities between their lives and the ‘cut and paste kind of life’ Matthew lives as a ‘service user’ in a National Health Service facility.” –Library Journal, starred review

"A meditation on mental illness, a family drama and mystery, a coming-of-age story – all wrapped up in a caring, imaginative story about a boy and his brother." –Shelf Awareness, starred review

"This is a tale told beautifully in the innocent voice of a perennial child and misfit . . . Filer deftly paints a series of vignettes of Matthew’s chaotic search for solace that successively unveils the mysteries surrounding his brother." –Washington Independent Review of Books

More About the Author

Nathan Filer is a writer and lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. He has written for television and radio. Where The Moon Isn't is his first novel (published in the UK as 'The Shock of the Fall').

Customer Reviews

Such a well written and compelling story line.
Heather Shumway
Nathan’s descriptions of mental illness and hospitalization are spot one.
Conrad Moreno
Lovely book, the kind you read from start to end never wanting to stop.
Ligia A. B. Miquelin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sara VINE VOICE on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Where the Moon Isn't begins with the recounting of a childhood memory by the 19-year old narrator Matthew. This memory, which may seem, to the reader, odd at best and unimportant at worst, has stayed with Matthew his entire life as a defining moment that set in motion a choice that ended in the death of his older brother, Simon. Now, Matthew is telling his story - and his brother's story - as he attempts to bring his brother back. Matthew is convinced he's found a way to do this: by going off the meds that keep his schizophrenia - and his brother - at bay. As Matthew tells his story, the reader struggles to unravel the truth from Matthew's version, which one can never take completely at face value, as it meanders through past and present, sometimes linear, sometimes repetitively, but always with a steady, persistent goal: finding Simon.

I cannot stress how much important I think this novel is. It deals with a myriad of topics, most notably mental illness, in a raw, honest way that readers won't soon forget. I was incredibly moved by Where the Moon Isn't... not just by Matthew and Simon's story, but by the stories of even the secondary characters. I can't talk about this book without my heart breaking and my eyes filling with tears because it's obvious that Filer has first hand experience with the issues he writes about in this book. My mother has spent most of her life working with for Community Mental Health of Michigan, so throughout my life I had the pleasure of meeting some of the most absolutely wonderful people who are saddled with mental and physical deficiencies. Filer gives these individuals a voice with Where the Moon Isn't. This book is a compelling mystery with engaging psychological elements, but, because of the author's heart and deft hand, it is also so much more.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For once this is a novel which justifies the publisher's hyperbolic claims - it really is terrific. I found it utterly engrossing, readable, funny, enlightening and very moving.

This is the story of Matthew, a young man who suffers from schizophrenia. It is narrated by Matthew himself and one of the most striking things about the book is the brilliant authenticity of his narrative voice. I am no expert on schizophrenia, but to this layman it felt and sounded utterly convincing, shifting in tone according to his medication and whether he is taking it, capturing things like Matthew's anger, wit, bitterness and sadness with remarkable vividness and painting an unforgettable picture of the things which happen to him. It took me right inside that young man's head and gave me a wholly believable picture and understanding of what he is going through and why he behaves as he does.

The story is superbly told. The structure is fragmented as Matthew writes in various places and states of mind and we get his history woven into descriptions of what is going on as he writes. Again, this is excellently done and really adds to the feel and sense of the book rather than just being a novelistic trick. Other characters and places are brilliantly painted and he captures (and sometimes excoriates) the language and types of speech of others (especially medical staff) extremely well. I found the whole thing compelling in that way where I felt very glad to have half an hour free to read some more.

I think there's always a worry with a book like this that it is using a Big Subject and a Clever Narrative Voice to market a mediocre novel.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Raven on August 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It is a rare thing to find a novel addressing the issues of mental illness handled in such a deft and compelling manner, but this is exactly what Filer has achieved in this accomplished debut novel. Drawing on Filer's own experiences of working within this field of mental health, there is an authenticity to the book that further compounds the effect and enjoyment of this, at times, heartwrenching story. Narrated by Matthew, a young adult, in the grip of schizophrenia, whose life has been hugely impacted on by the death of his brother Simon some years previously, Filer captures the true voice of and frustrations that Matthew experiences as his illness waxes and wanes throughout the book. The effects of the rise and fall of his symptons are cleverly illustrated by the clever incorporation of different typesets and fonts, which further brings home to the reader the essential aspects of Matthew's day-to-day- struggles with his mental health. Matthew's narrative is utterly compelling, gravitating between anger, despair and moments of humour, that challenges the reader and our perceptions of him as a character. Filer also stresses the impact of Matthew's schizophrenia on Matthew's family in a number of carefully wrought tableaus that really bring home the darkness of mental illness on the perceived normality of family life. The novel never descends into the trap of sentimentality, nor is it a completely depressing and mawkish study of life in the shadow of schizophrenia. It is an exceptionally balanced mix of truth, poignancy and, in some ways hope, that adds to its overall strength as a remarkable debut that deserves to be read.
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