Date Completed: 12/20/2015
Christie’s book started off as something I’d never read before. If I Fall, If I Die is the story of a boy ,who has never been outside to his memory, and his mother, an eccentric agoraphobe. Through this story, Will goes outside for the first time in his memory, makes friends, and meets people he never could have imagined he would meet. As he does so, he begins testing his mother and starts resenting her need for safety and habits. “‘Why did you tell me that pictures are called “masterpieces?”‘ he said. ‘Oh,’ she said, setting her fork down. ‘That.’ She snapped her elastic, and he resisted the urge to ask why the hell was that question scary. “Well, because that’s what they really are.'” She has so much faith in him, and of course she would because he is her world and her only human interaction.
I found the writing style particularly intriguing. The entire book is written in third person, but there are chapter switches, which I picked up on about a third of the way through. When Will is the lead of the story, chapters are numbered. When Diane, his mother, leads the story, chapters are titled “Relaxation Time.” I don’t pay much attention to titles as they often either give too much away or are irrelevant, but these dictated the direction each chapter would go.
I thoroughly enjoyed this pattern up until the mid-section where a standalone chapter was entitled “Titus,” and this Titus character took the lead. The story became very convoluted and complicated to follow. I felt as though I were ahead of the plot and the characters were struggling to catch up. Of course, this may, in fact, have been a stylistic choice since the characters were deceitful and all ahead and behind of each other in the true story of their lives. They often left out key details in communicating with one another and ignored each other’s questions, opting for ignorance instead. This kind of devolution is not common, as many authors prefer to leave readers surprised rather than draw attention to the chaos provoked by overlaying knowledge. In the end, the story sorted itself out and all the characters were on the same page with the reader.
So the bottom line is, this book really amazed me for the first half, Christie writes really well, and I found the character development to be amazing. Where this book fell short was in taking the plot into this self-aware/self-analytical sphere that felt a little too chaotic and a little too dependent on reader knowledge and character ignorance.
Michael Christie is originally from Thunder Bay, where this novel is set. He pursued professional skateboarding, another theme in his debut novel.
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.