I’ve had this book on my #TBR pile since I was lucky enough to hear Doug Johnstone speak at #AyeWrite in Glasgow earlier this year and then again perform at #NoirAtTheBar in Edinburgh a couple of months ago. His refreshing and direct approach intrigued me and the subject matter of The Jump, suicide, struck a chord with me and knowing that the author has personal experience of suicide, I was keen to see the approach he used in the novel.
What the blurb says:
YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, IF YOU HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE
Struggling to come to terms with the suicide of her teenage son, Ellie lives in the shadows of the Forth Road Bridge, lingering on its footpaths and swimming in the waters below. One day she talks down another suicidal teenager, Sam, and sees for herself a shot at redemption, the chance to atone for her son’s death.
But even with the best intentions, she can’t foresee the situation she’s falling headlong into – a troubled family, with some very dark secrets of their own.
I won’t dwell on an overview of what happens, the blurb gives you just all the information that you will need. This was a deeply emotional and raw read and from the very first page, I was drawn into Ellie’s grief as a mother losing her son to suicide and living in the shadow of the bridge where he took his life. It was impossible to read this book without feeling every last shred of pain and emotion that Ellie is experiencing.
I found myself climbing inside of her head and her life, the daily pilgrimage to the spot where he plunged into the icy waters of the River Forth. It was not an easy read as Ellie found herself compelled to save Sam from taking the same route to death as her son uncovering family secrets in the process. Exploring grief, loss, guilt and powerful family dynamics, The Jump is a compelling read that will leave you thinking long after you turn the last page.
Suicide is not an easy subject to cover in fiction and it is to the author’s credit that he did this with a great deal of sensitivity and without gratuitous sensationalism. An atmospheric read that transported me to the shadow of the bridge, a place I have been many times in my life but as a reader you would not have had to visit it in order to experience the sense of place that the author has created.
The Jump is jam-packed with an intense, compelling and highly charged narrative in a novel that is completely believable, even at points where you may think that it is unbelievable. It is a book that will stay deep inside my heart for a very long time.
You can buy the book over on Amazon:
Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician, and journalist based in Edinburgh. His eighth novel, Crash Land, was published by Faber & Faber in November 2016. His previous book, The Jump, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Novel. Gone Again(2013) was an Amazon bestseller and Hit & Run (2012) and was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. Smokeheads (2011) was nominated for the Crimefest Last Laugh Award. Before that Doug published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008). His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.
Doug has also recently signed a two book deal with #OrendaBooks which is fabulous news!
Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield. He is also a singer, musician, and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released two solo EPs, Keep it Afloat and I Did It Deliberately. After hearing Doug perform at #NATB Edinburgh, I can definitely recommend catching one of his performances if you get a chance!
Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars.
He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.