Title: Where the Moon Isn’t
Author: Nathan Filer
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan
Pub Date: November 5, 2013
Genre: Adult (Crossover)
Rec. Age Level: 16+
More by author: n/a
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 story, 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.
While Where the Moon Isn’t is technically adult fiction, it has definite crossover appeal. The main character, Matthew, is only nineteen and much of the novel focuses on his childhood.
“I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.”
“I decided each name on each spine was the person who the book had been written for, rather than who had written it. I decided everyone in the world had a book with their name on, and if I searched hard enough I’d eventually find mine.”
“But there are different versions of truth. If we meet each other in the street, glance away and look back, we might look the same, feel the same, think the same, but the subatomic particles, the smallest parts of us that make every other part, will have rushed away, been replaced at impossible speeds. We will be completely different people. Everything changes all the time.
Here are three truths.”
“What happened next is less clear in my mind because it has merged into so many other memories, been played out in so many other ways that I can’t separate the real from the imagined, or even be sure there is a difference. So I don’t know exactly when she started to cry, or if she was crying already. And I don’t know if she hesitated before throwing the last handful of dirt. But I do know by the time the doll was covered, and the earth patted down, she was bent over, clutching the yellow coat to her chest, and weeping.
When you’re a nine-year-old boy, it’s no easy thing to comfort a girl. Especially if you don’t know her, or even what the matter is.
I gave it my best shot.”
Check out the Youtube video inspired by Where the Moon Isn’t: