When Franklin bangs his head, his grasp on reality is compromised. He lurches frantically through Leicester in his search for love, forgiveness and understanding, finding comfort in conversations with his young sister Jenny – but as Franklin reveals himself to be a highly unreliable narrator, we must ask if Jenny exists or is merely a figment of his troubled mind? Franklin is increasingly losing touch with reality when, against the backdrop of Leicester landmark ‘Old John’, he meets a man he believes to be God. This stranger tells of his own son who had similar problems and in his increasing confusion Franklin believes the man is likening him to Jesus. As Franklin’s life spirals further out of control his behaviour becomes ever more erratic, culminating in his touching, frightening and often comical attempts to win the affections of market-girl Ronnie, who is fascinated and frightened in turn by this strange, funny, ill young man. Dealing with such universal themes as loss, love, guilt, forgiveness, relationships and mental health, this is an unsettling, but powerful, novel which will appeal to readers of books such as The Shock of the Fall.
Reviewer: Katy Pouillon
In all honesty, this book had me a little stumped – the synopsis was great right up my street: ‘Dealing with such universal themes as loss, love, guilt, forgiveness, relationships and mental health, this is an unsettling, but powerful, novel which will appeal to readers of books such as The Shock of the Fall’. However, once I started reading I was taken aback with the first person dialogue style in which it is written and I had to put it down again after a few pages. Not to be deterred though, I decided to persevere. Once finished I was still really unsure how to write an honest, un-biased review. After many stop/start attempts I went and looked at other reviews to get an idea. It had raving reviews from many literacy persons – it was likened to catcher in the rye, it was called amazing and brilliant.
Now, I am not a literacy expert, nor a huge fan of works that proclaim artistic merit because they are a little different, I am a thirty something Mum who enjoys reading a huge variety of genre. So I will attempt to show others on this website what to expect with this book.
Reading this book is basically like sitting down with a narcissistic younger male relative, on a bit of a drunken ramble, trying to figure out what went wrong with his life. Franklin is suffering from some kind of mental disorder, apparently following a bump on the head (although I struggle to see how what appears to be some kind of schizophrenic disorder would be triggered by hitting ones head but I am no expert). He, in a long roundabout way, talks us through his thoughts about how he met a girl he fell in love with. I really, really struggled with the writing style because it literally is likened to sitting there for hours listening to a young person speak with lots of ‘okay’, ‘you get me?’ and ‘now listen’ and I found I could only take a few pages at a time. However, having known a person in a mental crisis, I believe the author has managed to encapsulate the workings of someone with a mental health condition. In my experience, the narcissist way of thinking, the jumping from one subject to the next, the hallucinations and the inappropriate opinions are actually very real. Some people have mentioned they don’t like the ending, but I found it was true to what would probably happen.
So in summary, if you are looking for something different, that is NOT ‘sit down and escape with a hot choc fiction’ and makes you stop, think and try to understand a person who is going through a mental health crisis then this would be the book for you.