Where the Moon Isn't (Filer)

Where the Moon Isn't 
Nathan Filer, 2013
St. Martin's Press
320 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781250026989

While on vacation with their parents, Matthew Homes and his older brother snuck out in the middle of the night. Only Matthew came home safely.

Ten years later, Matthew tells us, he has found a way to bring his brother back...

What begins as the story of a lost boy turns into a story of a brave man yearning to understand what happened that night, in the years since, and to his very person. Unafraid to look at the shadows of our hearts, Nathan Filer's rare and brilliant debut Where the Moon Isn't shows us the strength that is rooted in resilience and love. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Nathan Filer is a writer and a mental health nurse. He has worked as a researcher at the academic unit of psychiatry at the University of Bristol and on in-patient psychiatric wards. Filer graduated from the prestigious Bath Spa University creative writing program with an MA in 2011, and Where the Moon Isn’t is his first novel. He lives with his family in Bristol. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
...Matthew, 10 years later, still blames himself for his brother’s death. Although the moon that was Simon’s face now isn’t, Matthew continues to hear his voice where he is being kept in an acute psychiatric ward. For Matthew is schizophrenic.... The story Filer tells is deeply affecting and insightful in its account of mental illness. And Matthew is a character the reader won’t soon forget. —Michael Cart.

[Matthew is] 19, quirky, lives in Bristol, England, and comes with a lot of baggage that he's happy to share in his own way and at his own pace. Matthew is also bipolar....haunted by the fate of his older brother who years ago went missing on a family seaside holiday.... [This book] will appeal to anyone looking for a serious (but not ponderous) story that's impossible to put down. —Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO
Library Journal

A fatal accident forever marks the life of a young British man struggling with his own demons.... [T]his debut novel by mental health nurse Filer is a startlingly authentic portrayal of the rigors and tribulations of navigating the modern health care landscape while struggling with mental illness. The novel's protagonist is Matthew Holmes, a fairly typical 19-year-old lad living in Bristol under the shadow of terrible grief.... This is a terribly unsettling novel, but it works on many levels--as family drama, as a searing indictment of Western health care and as a confession. A haunting story about how to mourn when the source of your grief will never go away.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. Discuss Matthew’s relationship with his parents. How does it change throughout the novel?

2. Why does Matthew need to tell his story? Is the act of writing a cathartic process?

3. How does Matthew portray life in the psychiatric ward? Were you shocked by any of the

4. What is Nanny Noo’s role in the novel?

5. Discuss Matthew’s comment on page 275, ‘I guess there’s a Use By date when it comes to
blaming your parents for how messed up you are’.

6. In Matthew’s invitation to Aaron and Jenny, he writes ‘I’m really sorry if I’ve got your name
wrong. Part of me thinks it’s Gemma. Please forgive me if I got it wrong. Not making excuses, but
I am a schizophrenic.’ Is this an indication that Matthew has come to terms with his illness? Why
does he joke about it?

7. How did the novel make you feel? Would you recommend it?

8. Did you have much of an insight into schizophrenia before reading the novel? Has it made you
want to find out more about mental illness?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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