If I Fall, If I Die
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: 1/20/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A heartfelt and wondrous debut about family, fear, and skateboarding, that Karen Russell calls "a bruiser of a tale" and that Philipp Meyer calls "astonishing."
Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is exotic and adventuresome—full of art, experiments, and music—but confined to their small house.
But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally goes outside. At school, he meets Jonah, an artsy loner, who introduces Will to the danger and freedom of skateboarding. Together, they search for a missing local boy, help a bedraggled vagabond, and evade a dangerous bootlegger.
The adventure is more than Will ever expected and pulls him far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood and the dangers that everyday life offers.
In buoyant, kinetic prose, Michael Christie has written an emotionally resonant and keenly observed novel about mothers and sons, fears and risks, and the lengths we’ll go for those we love.
A special thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
IF I FALL, IF I DIE, by Canadian Michael Christie, delivers a heartfelt and poignant coming- of- age magical debut—from fear to adventure; mother and son – a complex portrayal of mental illness, family, and friendship.
Will is a boy, not stepping outside the confines of his home until age 11. Diane, single agoraphobic mother lives in a constant panic of the world outside the doors of their home.
Inside/Outside – two world collide. Once a promising filmmaker, a mother is controlled by paranoia, depression, and agoraphobia. She believes in a world rich in culture, art, travel –however, all within the inside. A safe world. She creates a world to keep them safe with no risk.
She makes Will wear a helmet; however, he is lured by the outside world and is tempted by other boys. He discovers skateboarding and once he steps out, he realizes he does not die. He wants to live.
Christie captures the conflict between Will’s love and loyalty to his mother and the adventure and desire of the outside world, with both compassion and humor. Brilliantly told, with beautiful, creative, and haunting prose--an exploration of the fearful, dark mental frailty.
FALL, IF I DIE A bittersweet portrayal of psychological, and emotional human dynamics between mother and son, for a mysterious, and intriguing contemporary read. An author to follow!