Drift Stumble Fall
By M. Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
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, Bill’s 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 Richard’s 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.
After having read Broken Branches last year, I was certain I would connect with this latest title by M Jonathan Lee. Add my recent interview with the author discussing his important work with mental health and own personal connections, and picking up Drift Stumble Fall felt not only easy but necessary. Simply put, I was compelled do to so, much like I was compelled to finish this book in two small sittings.
Feeling caught in a life of neverending routine & responsibilities, Richard a father of two young children finds himself frequently searching for any form of escape. That escape seems to be limited to his few moments alone, locked away in the bathroom and attempting to drown out the noise and any reminder of his repetitive days. Seeing his neighbor Bill across the street, he desires to trade places. He envies Bill’s peaceful, noneventful life. Unknowingly to Richard, it is a life overshadowed by loss and grief. Bill spends his days longing for the happiness of family and commitments that surely Richard must have. But life is never as simple as it appears on the outside.
What I appreciated..
- M Jonathan Lee’s incredible ability to immerse the reader deep within the mind of the protagonist.
- The poetically raw and honest look at life and constant reminder that there are two sides to every coin.
- The fact that this was not an entirely easy read, as we are exploring the internal struggles that come with exhaustion, depression and even grief.
- The viable family life portrayed throughout that felt at times reminiscent of my own.
- A beautifully executed narrative that explores life and its many difficulties through two varying perspectives.
Challenges some may encounter..
- The slower paced progression and repetitiveness that is utilized to accomplish the themes contained within successfully (they serve their purpose well but be will be difficult for some readers).
Drift Stumble Fall is a heart-rending novel that dives beneath the comforting familiarities and truly explores the human condition. It is that constant and steadfast reminder that life affects each of us on varying levels and cannot be taken at face value.
*I would like to thank Hideaway Fall and the author for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.
The winter setting pairs wonderfully with a nice cup of chai.
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