Wednesday, October 21, 2015

If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

"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 panics at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and fun- loving—full of art, science experiments, and music—and all 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 ventures outside.  At his new school he meets Jonah, an artsy loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedoms 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, pulling him far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood, and all the risks 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 uncertainties, and the lengths we’ll go for those we love"

This book started out fantastic but lost a bit of momentum around halfway through. This is the story of the relationship between an increasingly agoraphobic Mom and her young son. At first Diane has mild to moderate panic attacks and can only leave her house for specific reasons. When the panic becomes so intense she can no longer drive she takes taxis. When the panic increases she no longer leaves the house at all, having everything delivered. She finds that even businesses who do not normally deliver will do so if you tell them you have a "severe condition"   Diane is determined to keep her son Will safe from the "outside"  His only experience with interacting with people comes from the deliveries he accepts and signs for since his mother is no longer able to answer the door. She tries to keep Will entertained inside, Will creates what he calls "masterpieces" and they pretend different parts of the house are different countries so that they may "travel" all over the world while remaining safely inside. When this is not enough for Will and he wants to venture outside he is made to wear a helmet. He is clueless when it comes to interacting with other children since he has never been allowed to do so. This leads to quite a bit of difficulty at first. As Will becomes increasingly curious and wants to experience more of the "outside" Diane's panic and mental illness worsens. After he notices that he is the only one wearing a helmet and he survives his first encounter with the outside he begins to question whether the world is as dangerous as his mother has led him to think. This was a sometimes humorous and sometimes sad look at mental illness and it's impact on families.
I received a free copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for review.

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