Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee
Published by Hideaway Fall Ltd. on April 12, 2018 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary
Format & Length: paperback, 310
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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.
Drift Stumble Fall is the second book I’ve read by M. Jonathan Lee, the first being Broken Branches, and his writing continues to impress me.
“That has always been my problem. I can’t say no. So instead, I just go along with it. Whatever it is.”
This story explores the theme of judging other people’s lives based on what we see and how things are not always as they appear. Following the perspectives of two men who live across the street from one another, the truth about each household unfolds slowly as facts and nuances develop. This was not exactly a lighthearted read but Lee’s writing style along with short chapters made it utterly readable and easy to digest.
Taking place over the course of a week where there is a huge snowstorm stranding these families at home, this has a nice even pacing from beginning to end. To be clear, it is not a fast paced plot driven story; the characters are the focus here. And despite the fact that I didn’t necessarily like them all, they were realistic and relatable. I could understand these people, their emotions, and relationships. Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes being a responsible adult is hard. Some days you just don’t want to do it. What happens when it all just overwhelms you and you no longer feel like a person with a life to live beyond the mundane of the everyday? As everyone has their own personality and life experiences, we all react differently. And this novel explores this idea in an engaging and thought-provoking manner.
“I sit at the end of the table, stare at the closed blinds and think about the monotony of the life I have chosen.”
Compelling and poignant, I enjoyed reading Drift Stumble Fall and would recommend it to anyone who prefers character driven novels.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition in exchange for an honest review.