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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Review: Falling Through the World by Rachel Clarke

Title: Falling Through the World

Author: Rachel Clarke

Genre: Fictional/Disability (M.E.)

Author Website

Book Goodreads Page

Overall Rating: 4/5

Falling Through the World is a fictional story of a teenage girl’s plummet into M.E.  While this book is fictional, it is greatly influenced by the author’s own experience of living with M.E.  Personally I feel that this is a book for friends, family and carers of those with M.E. as it gives a clear picture of what it is like to be struck down for no apparent reason, and then have to continue trying to live any kind of life.  As someone with M.E., I found certain parts (particularly towards the beginning) of the novel physically difficult and distressing to read as it brought up some of my own memories; therefore I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone suffering from a Chronic Disability (other than if they wish to read it to advise friends and family of how their own experiences relate to it) as I feel that it could cause unnecessary pain and depression.

As a reader I felt that the prologue was unnecessary as it didn’t add anything to the story, and in fact made me less interested in reading on.  Instead, I believe it would have benefited from an introduction forewarning readers that not only is the case of Sarah (the main character) extremely severe, but that everyone reacts differently, with different symptoms (not all of which are mentioned in the book), to M.E. and I would strongly suggest that any friends or family of sufferers are advised of this. 

There are not many fictional stories about M.E. and this book highlights one of the reasons why not – it is impossible to create an enticing plot about becoming ill, possibly with little hope of recovering.  Any story of this kind is going to be completely character-driven and unfortunately I felt that this is where the book fell flat.  Sarah is an average teenager, who has an average life, with an average family and average friends.  The problem is that she is a generalization of a ‘typical teenager’ and therefore it is difficult to have any feelings towards or about her.  I think this story would definitely have benefited from a little bit more of an introduction, showing what Sarah is actually like – what her hopes and dreams are, what she thinks about  - as this would give the reader some attachment to her and therefore would become more involved in the emotions of what happens to her.

This was true of all the characters, and even to some extent the symptoms of M.E.  As there is no ‘average’ set of symptoms I found this a bit frustrating as I know I will have to explain this to each person I advise to read it; it is something that should have been included in the introduction.  However, I do believe that the emotions that Sarah feels such as loneliness, anger, frustration and guilt, are likely to have been felt at some point with anyone with a chronic disability.

For those of us who need to know these emotions are normal, and for those wishing to understand how M.E. or any chronic disability effects the sufferer emotionally, I would definitely point towards this book.

Overall I felt that, while this isn’t the best-told story, it is a great start towards showing what living with M.E. is like, for those who cannot understand it.  As I’ve mentioned, there are very few novels or stories about M.E., but reading books like this one gives me hope that there will be more on the way.

[I received a free copy of this book with no obligations. I chose to review it here as I felt it would be of use and interest to my readers.  All opinions are my own.]

Other fictional books about M.E. that I recommend:

Verity Red's Diary: A Story of Surviving M. E by Maria Mann 

The State of Me by Nasim Marie Jafry 

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