Cover Image: This Isn't Going to End Well

This Isn't Going to End Well

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I requested this book from Netgalley with only the memory of Wallace's story, Big Fish, in mind, though I had seen it as a play, and hadn't yet read the book. (Do you see my TBR pile growing?) Wallace brings the sadly familiar story of a light that burns just a little too brightly before it is abruptly extinguished. I had never heard of his brother-in-law, William Nealy, but, looking at his life in hindsight, it's not hard to see how he could have captivated Wallace in his youth. For such a tragically short life, William accomplished more than many of us—his books and maps are expressions of pure joy and are still out there in the world he left behind. Wallace seems somehow beholden to Nealy's legacy, but of course his own accomplishments have already matched or outpaced his hero by now. This is a moving and compassionate story about love, family, and living on your own terms.
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The title says it all; This Isn't Going to End Well starts with an unexpected suicide, climaxes at a shocking discovery, and ends, hopefully for the author, with a cathartic release.

Daniel Wallace is an established novelist and professor, and This Isn't Going to End Well, is his debut nonfiction book. Like in a character-driven novel, Wallace uses the first half of the book to introduce and explore his "characters". The essay-style chapters delve into William Nealy's lifestyle and persona and Wallace's complete and utter adoration of his brother-in-law (Nealy). Additionally, Wallace establishes the uniqueness of Nealy's relationship with Holly (Nealy's wife and Wallace's sister). Nealy appears to be a larger-than-life daredevil, adventurer, artist and entrepreneur. Clearly, someone to be idolized by his wife's much younger brother.

After years of grief, Wallace happens upon Nealy's journals, which ultimately begat this book. Wallace makes it clear that Nealy's daredevil persona might have hidden a man plagued by depression, who looks at death (accidental or intentional) as a release from his mental and physical pain as well as from his overwhelming obligations. Wallace's book is as much a cathartic, grief exercise as it is an expose on the hidden darkness that can grow and flourish in those who suffer with mental health issues. I would have appreciated more fluidity in the telling of William Nealy's story, however, it was nonetheless a thought-provoking and important story. This Isn't Going to End Well honors the memory of William Nealy and acts as a reminder to we readers that the seemingly strong people in our lives, could be hiding an inner fragility, and they may need to lean on us sometimes.
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This book had a full range of emotions. We could feel the admiration that the author had for Nealy as a child and teen, the frustration and sadness that Nealy's life ended the way it did, and the wonder of the stories he learned from others while researching and writing the book. No one is entirely good or bad, but the author told the story in a way that made Nealy sound very interesting. 

It was easy to picture an amazingly confident and independent man from the author's descriptions, but there was obviously so much more beneath the surface, that no one knew until it was too late. Nealy didn't sound like someone who would warm up to most people easily, but once he was your friend, he was a friend for life. His dedication to his wife was also so touching, while adding another element of wondering why it all ended too soon. 

The story was wonderfully engaging, even knowing there would be no happy ending from the start. Although it was presented more of a biography of William Nealy's life, it read almost like an endearing memoir, since the author was telling about when Nealy's life had overlapped with his. This book earned 4 out of 5 stars from this reader, and could be recommended to those who like a story of a life well-lived. While it feels it was clear all along how it 'didn't end well,' readers who don't like stories involving suicide will steer clear of this one.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for gifting me a digital ARC of this nonfiction book by Daniel Wallace, and allowing me to participate in the blog tour prior to its publication - 4.5 stars rounded up!

Daniel Wallace (author of Big Fish) grew up idolizing William Neely, his older sister Holly's boyfriend.  William was everything more that Daniel wanted to be - fearless, a writer, an adventurer, a seeker, a helper.  When William died by suicide at the age of 48, he broke many hearts, including David's.  Years later, Daniel goes against his conscience to try and discover more about his idol.

This is an unflinching memoir that reads like fiction, with the added touch of William's own illustrations.  It's honest, real, and shows the interior struggle that we all feel, but those with mental illness even more so.  Having lost someone to suicide and left to answer questions alone, I can't help but feel alternately envious that Daniel got to peek behind the curtain of William's mind and also grateful that I didn't have to have all those feelings laid out when it was too late.  We all hide so much behind our outside veneer, so this is a reminder to treat everyone a little more gently.
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I don't read a lot of non-fiction. I wasn't sure how to feel going into this book because it was essentially about a person I had never heard of, who had a profound influence on the author's life. 

This book was so well written, and I found it to be not too heavy, despite dealing with some heavy topics. 

The author recounts his memory and the life of William Nealy, who was his sister's boyfriend when he was a child, and eventually became his brother-in-law later in life. The author idolized William at a young age and modeled himself after him. You couldn't help but join the author in thinking that William was just so cool.

William takes his own life, devastating the family, and leaving his wife alone with a debilitating autoimmune disease. The author pulls you through the stages of grief, while he deals with his anger over the situation for a very long time. It isn't until the passing of his sister, when he inherits William's journals, that he begins to realize the struggles William had in life, and that he might not have been who everyone thought he was.

The book details the unsolved murder of William's best friend, which may not have been the first trigger of his downward spiral, but it certainly sped it up. William became obsessed with solving the crime himself.

Overall, it was a great read, and I would recommend it to fiction and non-fiction readers alike.
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He was a hero, and he was a hero because he did heroic things, while beneath it all there was just that boy, dressed in a scout’s uniform covered in mud, and screaming.
from This Isn’t Gong to End Well by Daniel Wallace

The title tells you from the start: this is not a book with a happy ending. It begins with idealization of a friend, and takes us into scenes that are hard to read, and finally when the friend’s past and inner turmoil are exposed, it is downright painful.

Stories about mental anguish and the scars of trauma are never happy. And when the subject is someone loved and admired, a role model, the pain is deep.

Daniel Wallace’s book about his friend and brother-in-law William Nealy reminds us that people hide their deepest mental distress. They don’t talk about the most awful things that happen to them. you can see their struggle in their choices, self-destructive or self-hate acts, or the aspiration to prove their worth through sacrifice and risk. But we are, in the end, strangers to one another.

Wallace couldn’t stop trying to understand Nealy. After his suicide, after his sister’s death, he discovers Nealy’s journals. Private or not, he had to read them. And he discovers the man he never knew.

A shattering memoir that offers compassionate insight.

I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
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A very compelling story of the life of an amazing and tragic figure. Many of us have had someone in our lives who was a bit older and we viewed as so cool. We molded ourselves to be more like them, adopting styles and changing tastes to be more like that person. This is ultimately a story about the dichotomies in every one of us: Appearance vs. reality, good vs. evil, fiction vs. fact... and which of these wins out in the end. How many of us have the strength to pursue the truth even when it shatters everything we've ever believed about ourselves or the people we've loved and admired? Daniel Wallace has told this chapter of his life with a raw honesty that kept me wondering what was going to come next. I found the story of William alternately amusing, sad, and cringe-inducing. I highly recommend this book.
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This is a deeply moving and personal book that will not be for everyone simply because it focuses on such touchy subject matter. It's well written and delves deep. An emotional read.
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This book/memoir is so full of pain and secrets.

To me, this book attests to how you never really know someone, regardless of how much we admire them or want them to be exactly as they appear.

The pace of this book is excellent and you can feel the pain (and some of the good parts) come through.  The strength of this author is definitely in the raw emotion that the author is willing to include in this story and book.

Most people are a mixture of good and bad and this comes through the writing here.
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Why would anyone read a book wen you know the ending? Because it's an excellent book, a good story, and no one every knows the complete truth about the ending.

Daniel Wallace worshiped his brother-in-law long before he became his brother-in-law. he was cool, lived life on the edge, and knew things that Daniel only wished he knew. He could build things, draw, love, experience drugs, and let Daniel tag along. He could even write, the one thing Daniel wanted to do and envied the most in his brother-in-la. For all Daniel knew about him, he never saw that his brother-in-law was living a lie. He lived the life Daniel saw but to himself he was an imposter. Such and imposter he took his live at an early age. 

What do you do when your hero takes his own life? For Daniel, he told his brother-in-law's story. This is that story. A story about love and a man who should have lived forever.
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