Friday, 22 January 2016

One Man's Opinion: THE JUMP by DOUG JOHNSTONE



The Jump (US) is a complex tale that takes place in South Queensferry.

At the opening of the story, Ellie is struggling to cope with life. Her son, Logan, killed himself by jumping from the Forth Road Bridge and there’s no escaping the hurt and confusion that has brought. This early section is a painful dissection of suicide and the after-effects of the event on the survivors. It’s harrowing stuff. The author has clearly done his homework and knows how to present the information in a way that is very unsettling.

On one of her obsessive forays out along the bridge to the point where Logan jumped, Ellie encounters a young man who is contemplating doing the same. In a tense scene, she manages to persuade him to come down. For Ellie this is the second chance she never had with Logan. She takes Sam home and does her best to put him back together without informing her husband Ben, who is coping with his loss in a very different way to her.

As she gets to know Sam, she uncovers a dark background behind his misery. It involves the stabbing of his policeman father and a nightmare of a family situation. Suffice it to say that this is also disturbing and distressing and, once again, Johnstone pulls no punches in his delivery.

In order to protect Sam, Ellie has to take many risks. She’s prepared to push the boat out (sometimes literally) beyond the boundaries of normal human behaviour.

The Jump is often gripping and moves with the energy of a good thriller. Whilst shifting with the action, the psychological scars and the open wounds are explored and offer an interesting foil to the adventure. The balances and interplay here is interesting and Johnstone does a pretty good job of holding the internal and external narratives together.

As well as deserving credit for producing another engaging read, the author should also be applauded for his choice of material. Suicide is not something that is openly discussed. It might be that because of this book there’s a shift from this position. Here’s hoping.


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