As always, I will try to avoid spoilers but will alert you if they should arise.
Disaster Falls by Stephane Gerson is heart breaking. It took me a decent amount of time to read this book (which is roughly 250 pages long) because of how hard this hits the heart.
We follow a father who has just lost his son, Owen, on a family trip to Disaster Falls. The family goes rafting and the youngest son, who is eight, dies on the rapids. The fact that this book follows the death of a child makes it difficult to read. Then on top of that you are reading from the view point of the father who feels like he is responsible for his sons death. Every other page strikes emotion into the reader. As someone who does not have children this hit me in a different way than if someone who has children were to read this story. But regardless of that matter, you are still able to feel empathy for this family. There were moments when I had to stop and put the book down because I couldn’t stop crying.
The story begins with the father explaining how others have reacted towards Owens death. He explains how and why the family hid from the world to grieve. He also speaks a bit about the funeral and his concerns for his wife, as it is easier for him to worry about her well being rather than his own at this time. Another point he hits is his inattention to his other son Julian. This is another point that really got my emotions spinning because it’s not something that I noticed until it was pointed out. It made me feel awful and I wondered if this occurs in families who have experienced a loss of another child. Most of the beginning is what you would expect to read on the topic but the way it is written makes it difficult and on top of that you remember at times throughout that this is this boys father telling you all this.
As the story progresses, slowly Owens father begins to share his belief that the death is his fault and the reader can really see how hard it is for him to see otherwise. You can feel him struggling to explain at times. Dad also compares his grief to his wife’s and how they handle it. Dad is baffled at how open his wife is with dealing with the loss of her baby, where he goes out of his way to avoid mention of it.
There was a quote in the story that really sat with me as I read, “…while those who have lost a parent are called orphans, there is no word for those who have lost a child.” The reason this was on the forefront of my mind while I was reading is because often times, orphans are referred to as abandoned. But while reading I noticed that this father felt abandoned, not only by himself and other around him, but by his physical and mental strength during the accident. His feeling of failure is evident and that leads him to abandon himself at times.
One thing I really liked about the setup of the book is that at the beginning of each chapter there is a message from someone regarding Owens death. For me this really put an emphasis on the weight that the outside world unknowingly places on the family as they try to adjust to this new life without their son.
Overall I have this book a 4/5 stars. I did not give it a full five because at times I feel like there was not enough detail in some of the descriptions and I am a detail person, super picky about details. But with that being the only thing, this was a wonderfully heartbreaking story with a slap in the face at the last 50 or so pages. Stephane Gerson is a brave soul to share such a story with the world. Thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,
If you would like more info about the author you can follow the link here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/247711/stephane-gerson/
If you would like more info regarding the book, you can follow this link: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/536651/disaster-falls-by-stephane-gerson/
I have received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.