I almost didn’t read The View on the Way Down, and yet I find myself writing this review as the Easter weekend draws to a close, with red, blood-shot eyes and a tear streaked face. As I often complain, the list of books I want to read constantly increases; thus for whatever reason, my copy of Rebecca Waite’s debut novel slipped under my radar until recently when I saw a mention of it on Twitter. I had just finished Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley and, keen to get as much reading done as possible over the long weekend, I immediately began The View on the Way Down.
Centred around a family who are struggling with the aftermath of eldest son Kit’s suicide five years ago, parents Rose and Joe have a strained relationship, while teenage Emma has turned to both comfort eating and Jesus in the wake of her brother’s death. There is also another son; Jamie who is estranged from his family, working in a book shop in Sheffield and also battling with his own demons following Kit’s suicide.
The naivety of Emma’s character is just one of many endearing qualities of the book; and the reader immediately sympathises with her as she deals with bullies, losing faith in God and not really knowing the circumstances in which her brother died.
For me, the most poignant and moving part of The View on the Way Down was the way in which it dealt with the often un-talked about subject of depression; a cause very close to my heart but equally one I have always struggled to contemplate. The delicate way in which Waite wrote about Kit’s suffering in the lead up to his death was so breathtakingly beautiful that, despite the fact I was wracked with sobs on a packed and very public train, I read the passage twice.
Waite’s talent also lies in the fact that despite much of the book being about both death and depression, she has written a beautiful, touching tale that is as uplifting as it is sad. And the brotherly loyalty and love that dominates the book as it draws to its end is a fitting end to this wonderful book. The View on the Way Down is a beautifully written, spell-binding debut that has completely blown me away.
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