I came across The View on the Way Down quite randomly on my Amazon Recommended page, and the cover was the first thing that caught my eye. Coupled with the slightly sparse synopsis, I was intrigued - and the rest, as they say, is history.
At the beginning of the book, I thought The View On the Way Down would probably be one of those sweet coming-of-age stories - Emma is fourteen years old, her parents are practically divorced but still sleeping in the same bed, and her older brother has disappeared. Emma is lonely, has self-confidence issues and a dedication to God. And that's when I started to feel a little uncomfortable - did I pick up a religious book by mistake? Insert spoiler here because I think it's important for people who don't enjoy religious books - Emma's religion is a plot device only, and gradually plays less and less of a role in her life.
The View on the Way Down is told in multiple POV's and formats, which actually surprised me when it happened - although the synopsis actually suggests otherwise, I went into this book thinking it was told completely from Emma's perspective, but all the family members have their say, and there is also one part told completely in letters which worked extremely well.
The characters are realistic and varied - it was easy to sympathise with Emma, who struggles to make friends and whose family pretty much imploded when she was too young to understand what was happening, and now lives in the fall out without realising why her father isolates himself and her mother throws herself into being the perfect housewife. None of the characters are perfect, and all have dealt with the death of one of the brothers, Kit, in their own very personal way.
I'm always a little wary of books that say they will break your heart in the synopsis. I'm a pretty tough nut to crack and although The View on the Way Down didn't have me in floods of tears, it was certainly very touching and in parts, quite emotional to read as the characters deal with grief, guilt, blame and forgiveness, particularly in the final third of the book.
The View on the Way Down isn't a happy ending book - it's a realistic look at family dynamics and grief, and how they effect each person as an individual and as a group. And although there are parts that are incredibly sad and even difficult to read, there is also an element of hope that made it a satisfying, well-rounded story that was a pleasure to read.
Read more of my reviews at The Aussie Zombie