Book Review: The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait

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A (very) brief plot overview

Five years after the death of Kit – a beloved son and brother – an estranged family must try and find a way to come back together and stop history repeating itself.

What’s good about it?

From what I gather, this is Rebecca Wait’s first novel and if I were her I would be incredibly proud of producing this piece of fiction. It’s storyline is incredibly relevant, it touches on subjects we need to talk about and is written in a way that anyone can can identify with and therefore be included in the conversations it tries to raise. As an aspiring writer myself, I love that a new novelist tackled big, important themes and was supported by a publisher – it gives me hope for my own writing future.

The issues this book tackles are big, big issues – mental health, grief, suicide, family dynamics, guilt, bullying. For me one of the biggest strengths of this book is how it talks about mental health and the effect it has. Kit’s mental health is discussed in regards to the way that it changed his own life, but Rebecca Wait also explores the ramifications of Kit’s mental health on the rest of his family. By showing how hard it can be to spot the signs of mental health and how sometimes mental health completely takes over to a point where someone feels there is no return, Rebecca Wait has started a really important discussion and call for understanding. Her writing gets to the heart of difficult things and rips them open so that you are forced to confront them. The themes of guilt and grief are explored so well that sometimes you end up feeling as if you are grieving Kit’s loss yourself, sometimes even tearing up alongside the characters.

My favourite relationship in the book is the relationship between Jamie and his dad. For anyone struggling with grief or who has ever grieved, it’s hard not to see parts of yourself reflected in these two. The struggle with acceptance, with understanding your role, with forgiving yourself for not being able to make everything okay for someone. It’s a beautiful written father/son dynamic and one of my favourite parts of the book.

What’s not so good?

Sometimes the characters felt dated, particularly Emma and Rose. Emma didn’t seem like a modern day teenager and Rose seemed like she had been transported from the 1950s. I understand that Rose was trying to keep the idea of a perfect family going and that becoming an idealistic housewife was her way of coping, but I found the language she used and the way she spoke about food a little jarring against the mental health and suicide backdrop.

Rate me: 8/10. This is a really poignant book that will stay with you for a long time after you have finished reading it.

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