The Rungs on the Ladder
By: Jordan Holt
Undoubtedly, everyone on the planet has felt a little down at times. It is a perfectly natural and normal emotion to experience. However, what if that feeling is magnified multiple times over and permeates every part of our existence? Constantly filled with feelings of self-doubt and a vacant sense of self-worth. Consumed by the loneliness which accompanies isolating one’s self from everyone around them. Unable to break this harmful isolationist pattern as the mere thought of being around others brings with it a sense of fear and dread. If any of this rings a bell, or even if it does not, The Rungs on the Ladder by author Jordan Holt may well be worth a gander.
Essentially, The Rungs on the Ladder is a novella which follows a man as he struggles with overwhelming anxiety and depression. Although there are some flashback scenes and references to the past, it primarily deals with an actual point in time. From the outset the reader is able to follow the protagonist as he seeks to alleviate some of his pain and inner turmoil by taking an evening walk. It is during this stroll that he comes across a group of friends who convince him to tag along with them. What follows is a deep and profound examination of his innermost thoughts. The depth and debilitating nature of his affliction becomes quite clear. However, there is also a ray of hope as the opportunity for love and real change is tantalizingly dangled in front of his face. The question which then arises is whether a life can actually be changed amidst such seemingly impenetrable roadblocks??
Make no mistake, this novella is quite dark for the most part. Indeed, it is a perfect match with the subject matter. There is nothing “light and fluffy” about depression… other than overcoming it that is! As a reader and fellow sufferer of the exact same debilitating condition which is explored in this novella, I was able to relate quite strongly to the tale. The author’s writing is quite poetic and flows beautifully. He also has the uncanny ability to get right into the mind of fellow depression sufferers. For instance, “I feel as if no one expects much from me, though I’ve been around for years.” I would wager that the vast majority of those afflicted with anxiety and depression can absolutely relate to those words. Also, the subtle nuances such as being uniquely sensitive to the look in the eyes of others; intently noticing and becoming mesmerized by dust specks floating in the air; and maintaining absolute knowledge about the variety of cracks in the wall- resonates deeply. I could simply relate to this tale on so many levels.
While the novella is written beautifully, I found myself wanting to know more about the protagonist and the secondary characters. For the most part we get to know them under a very dark cloud. We do see a break in those clouds, but it still does not reveal a lot of key character details which would help further explore and understand the complex subject matter. Also, the dark aspects of the story, such as negative thoughts and substance abuse, could be potentially triggering to some. Be that as it may, I do understand what the author is trying to do, and for the most part it is accomplished. Personally, I just would have enjoyed getting to know the characters better. That can be hard to do in a short novella, but certainly worthwhile.
All in all I quite enjoyed and fully related to The Rungs on the Ladder. It is mature content matter and as such would only be recommended to an adult audience.
4 out of 5 Hopeful Stars for this one! ****