She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live. – Annie Dillard
About the Book
Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richard’s existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.
Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other people’s lives are not always what they seem.
Where to Buy
I received this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This was a tough read. As someone with agoraphobia, social phobia and depression, I know what it is like to become disillusioned about your life and lose hope. So many people spend all of their lives wishing they had it better or like someone else. Yet they only see the image projected out and not what that person deals with. This is definitely a "water your own grass" and "be kind to others, you do not know what battles they fight" book.
I had the most trouble liking Richard, honestly. He was just utterly miserable about everything. He came off as selfish, self-absorbed. Which is what happens when someone is spending too much time in their head, wishing they had it better than they do. He often gazed upon his neighbour Bill and wished he had his peaceful life without two kids, annoying in-laws and his wife doting on him. But I struggled greatly to like Richard, personally.
To everyone else, Bill had the life but Bill lived in a house filled with painful memories waiting for the inevitable phone call. He watches Richard's life and he envies Richard's domestic bliss of two kids, a loving wife and in-laws happy to visit every Sunday. My heart ached for Bill and his wife's story. For all of their losses.
This deals with some pretty tough topics. Loss of a loved one, murder, suicide and depression. This could be a very triggering novel due to this. So I definitely warn you to proceed with caution.
At the time that I read this book, I, personally, was not in a good mental place so I found this an especially difficult book to read. Perhaps one day I will reread this book and find it a lot better than I did the first round.
About the Author
M. Jonathan Lee is a nationally shortlisted author who was born Yorkshire where he still lives today with his wife, children and dog, Alfie.His debut novel, The Radio was shortlisted for The Novel Prize 2012. He has spoken in schools, colleges, prisons and universities about creative writing and storytelling and appeared at various literary festivals including Sheffield’s Off the Shelf and Doncaster’s Turn the Page festival.
His second novel, The Page was released in February 2015.
His much anticipated third novel, A Tiny Feeling of Fear was released in September 2015 and tells the story of a character struggling with mental illness. All profits from this novel are donated to charity to raise awareness of mental health issues. This was accompanied by the short film, Hidden which was directed by Simon Gamble and can be seen here.
In 2016, he signed for boutique publishers, Hideaway Fall and his fourth novel Broken Branches was released in July 2017, winning book of the month in Candis magazine for September.
He is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness and writes his own column regularly for the Huffington Post. He has recently written for the Big Issue and spoken at length about his own personal struggle on the BBC and Radio Talk Europe. His fifth book, the critically acclaimed Drift Stumble Fall is released in Spring 2018.
Connect with M. Jonathan Lee
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Quote of the Month
“Don't be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
― Roy T. Bennett