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, Richards 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 peoples lives are not always what they seem.
|Publisher||Paperback||310||Hideaway Fall||Fiction||April 12th, 2018|
*Many thanks to Hideaway Fall for accepting me into #teamhideaway and sending me a paperback copy of the book in exchange for an honest review*
Realistic and raw, Drift Stumble Fall is like a trap within a trap. It’s one of those books that take life and mirror it back to the reader in its truest form and you can’t help but feel how your heart feels heavy with it all.
I have to admit- this title was not the easiest of reads, not at all. It was challenging and sad and yet, I couldn’t stop.
Richard feels utterly overwhelmed. He has been driven to the end of his wits with the busyness, routine, hustle and bustle of his life, marriage and a couple of young kids. It’s simply all too much for him. It’s also completely relatable. I don’t think there’s a person on this planet that hasn’t been driven to the edge of insanity with exhaustion. So, the way Rich feels and what he plans to do about it is definitely not alien to the majority of people. His wife Lisa doesn’t at all come across as the most supportive wife and I very much disliked how she spoke to Rich like he was dumb or a nobody. Then again, thinking back, perhaps being in a low mindset perhaps Richard was only ever going to hear anything positive from his other half anyway? After all, there are a number of ways to ‘translate’ what we hear and a number of ways to receive what is being spoken to us.
Their kids are just kids- full of bouncing energy and in need of constant attention. A lot of Richard’s time revolves around his children and while he constantly wants to escape their presence because he simply can’t endure another fit and fight in between the kids, he also really loves them and takes care of them in a really special way. I loved his night time routine with Hannah. It just took me back to my own childhood when I had all sorts of secret codes and chats with my Pops right before going to sleep.
But as is the case with most humans, we always want what someone else has and so Rich looks out from his own chaotic bubble and notices a different kind of rhythm in a house across the street from him. Bill and his wife Rosie are an elderly couple who hardly leave their home. In fact, they never really leave. Richard notices their peace, their leisurely pace of life, their everything else that simply seems to be so much better and Richard wishes he had that. Anything but what he currently lives and breathes. But what Richard doesn’t know, is that Bill and Rosie live in a different kind of imprisoning turmoil of their own.
Interestingly I also had a few chuckles along the way- some of these were brought on by brilliantly placed similes by the author; the biggest chuckle I had was at myself. There is a scene where Richard looks across the street at Bill’s house again and wishes he was retired and it made me laugh because I have had the same thought myself quite often lately. In fact, when I mentioned it to my Pops over the phone the other week, he also laughed and told me to hang fire- he was going to retire first!
M. Jonathan Lee writes with conviction and daring and brutal honesty. There is simply no holding back as the grief, anxiety, exhaustion are poured from the pen to the page ready to grasp readers’ hearts in a grip and hang on with all might until the last sentence has come to an end.
Drift Stumble Fall is bittersweet throughout. It left me with a lot to mull over. But it also showed and proved to me that life is an act of balance, always, no matter how unfair or cruel it may seem. There are bad moments that sometimes feel enough for anyone to want to give up but there are also those moments which we study and file away in our heads as something entirely good and pure. We drift, stumble and fall in between these bad and good moments… The trick is always to ride out the bad as best we can and embrace the good as they come.. because the good will always come!
Most importantly, as Drift Stumble Fall took me down memory lane to my childhood, it left me feeling grateful of my parents and appreciative that while dealing with my child-self they had bigger problems to tackle at the same time. They must have been exhausted as well, so damn exhausted, and I am so happy we made it through all of these years of quite a few hardships with our family intact.