I am not someone that reads family tragedy stories often. Its something too heartbreaking to read about, and even if it’s fiction it’s sad to think it’s not far from reality for most people. I was intrigued by the premise and wanted to give this a try and let’s just say even though this deals with some heavy themes it fills you with hope and to say the least gratitude.

SUMMARY

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337 is a story of Samuel Darte, living and coping through his ordinary but tragic life where he deals with the trauma caused when his mother abandoned them (Sam, Tom (his younger brother) and his Dad). She left them with nothing but a note and her wedding ring on the kitchen table. This was about 20 years ago.Now he goes about his daily life of working remotely for a not so satisfying job and revisits his childhood memories trying to make sense of it all. One day,his father who is in prison paying the price of his motherโ€™s disappearance calls and asks him to visit his long-estranged Gramma, living out her last days in a nursing home nearby.

Keen to learn about what really happened to his mother and realizing the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems. Dun..Dun Dunnn *suspense music*
Even the cover and book design has been given great thought where the title 337 can also be read as Lee which is also the authors name. Also, if you’re from the UK, the book has a double sided feature available in hardcopy which adds to the reading experience.

THOUGHTS

– Dysfunctional Family

On point narration for situations that deal with loss or death of a close one. Family is Family!

TWO DIFFERENT COPING MECHANISMS

The story is said through Sam’s perspective, and I truly connected with him. I felt extremely sad and helpless for his situation. He had an extremely rough childhood that has quite a negative impact to the situation he finds himself in. Dealing with this, resulted in an unhappy marriage and strained relationships with everyone in his life. He seems really stuck in the past struggling to move on and is going through what I like to call an elaborated depressive phase.He is also at the forefront of dealing with the damage as compared to Tom since he was a teen when his mom left and felt responsible as the eldest brother. Overall, the collateral damage has taken a massive toll on him and he lives a pretty depressive life. Don’t get me wrong, Sam as a character even though not likable was pretty relatable and some of the scenes just compels you to feel empathy towards him.

However, Tom who I liked the best in the book, did not let his circumstances define him. Both of them grew up in the same circumstances now lived two completely opposite lives which was the biggest takeaway for me in this book. Of course, Tom was way younger and he is still into substance abuse. Yet, he was that silver lining I needed to get through this book that literally gives you all the feels. I absolutely adored how the author explored two different kinds of coping mechanisms, one through Tom that uses escapism and the second through Sam that shifted his entire mental energy focusing on the tragic events and letting the past define his life.

” The worst thing anyone can do, “he says and fills his lungs with an enormous amount of smoke,” is to look backwards. We can retain memories as long as we don’t live in them. y’know. We shouldn’t yearn for a past that’s already gone and can’t be changed.”

NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS

This was a very character driven story for me. Sam switches between the present dealing with his dying grandmother and the past where he still hasn’t fully recovered from his mother’s disappearance. So basically, the plot consists of Sam either experiencing or reminiscing one tragic event after another. He is so far down consumed in this downward spiral of thoughts, going back and forth decoding the past and his family dynamics that’s all his life revolves around.

” I am sure that we are all different when dealing with past trauma, but my ghost stands three times as tall as I do. An invisible, faceless apparition which gently walks behind me. It is neither friendly nor threatening. It is just there, a reminder that its presence shapes everything that I do”

It’s a pretty sad book and because of which I had to put it down a few times to not overwhelm myself with emotions. Trust me, the emotional narrative is bound to make you think of Sam long after you’ve put down the book. This book that seemed like a pretty basic premise at first, surprised me with how multi-layered it ended up to be. The mysterious vibe is so subtle while the themes featured in this book speaks volumes for how nothing is ever truly as it seems.Some of the themes I felt had a realistic representation were substance abuse, police manipulation, domestic abuse, PTSD and most importantly depression.

GROWING UP IN A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY & THE DOMINO EFFECT

I am more than just blessed to have such an amazing close knit family that are literally my pillars of strength. I am not even exaggerating when I say all what I am is because of their unconditional love and support towards me. I can’t imagine a life where I don’t have them to fall back on.Personally, I will never fully understand how it must be to grow up in a dysfunctional family and the domino effect it creates in your life. Hence,to see the world through Sam’s perspective made me appreciate the little things I took for granted about my family and how even though positively still plays a major part in how I deal with the sadder parts of life.. And that is exactly why I found Sam so relatable. This is such a complex topic for me, but the author did an amazing job to weave in what an important role family plays in your life.

” When you experience some kind of serious trauma at a young age, it stays with you. It is like a ghost which follows a few feet behind every footstep – a quiet whispered sound that reminds you of your past”

A PLETHORA OF EMOTIONS

” Her voice is honey and candyfloss and golden syrup and sweet tea. It is clean as cotton and fresh as toothpaste. It is fresh and clear, and sounds of purity itself”

– Sam describing what his mother’s voice sounds like

This book would be absolutely dull if not for the writers narrative emotions throughout the book. The poetic descriptions sprinkled throughout the book made this story so vivid to me. The way he describes death and watching someone die was absolutely heartbreaking. I loved how nowhere in this story Sam actually just gives up on life and says he is depressed and that’s it. This alone makes it so realistic to me. Even though he is seeking therapy and is equally wanting to help himself out of the mess that his life is, I feel this says a lot about how someone dealing with trauma can be accused of not doing enough when every bit of them wants it to stop. Professional help or not! The author so effortlessly depicts a person that is so close to falling apart all over again. I loved how this book so perfectly explains that feeling when depression creeps in. I have always been a too many emotion, not enough words to express it kind of person. Hence when I come across sentences that perfectly explain how I feel I will cling to it like my life depends on it.

Trigger Warning

Family Member Death

Abandonment Issues

Grief, Trauma , Depression

Substance Abuse

RECOMMENDATION

Perfect for: Readers who would love to read some relatable content on dealing with the whirlwind of emotions for the loss of a loved one or grieving and the depression that follows. Also great if you simple enjoy contemporary family tragedy stories.

Think twice if:ย Youโ€™re not a fan of contemporary stories, or the trigger warnings turn you off from enjoying the story and it isn’t good for your mental health at the moment. This book definitely made me sad at times thinking about what Samuel had to go through and I don’t even have a depressive episode going on in reality.

DETAILS

Genre: adult, contemporary

Date Published: 30/11/2020

Publisher: Hideaway Falls

Pages: 233

Book Set In: UK

Author: M.Jonathan Lee
Author From: UK