TITLE: If I Fall, If I Die
AUTHOR: Michael Christie
PUBLISHER: Cornerstone Digital
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
Will has never been to the outside, at least not since he can remember.
And he has certainly never got 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 little world comprises only the rooms in their home, each named for various exotic locales and filled with Will's art projects. But soon the confines of his world close in on him.
Despite his mother's protests, Will ventures outside clad in a protective helmet and braces himself for danger. He eventually meets and befriends Jonah, a quiet boy who introduces him to skateboarding.
Will welcomes his new world with enthusiasm, his fears fading and his body hardening with each new bump, scrape and fall. But life quickly gets complicated. When a local boy goes missing, Will and Jonah want to uncover what happened. They embark on an extraordinary adventure that pulls Will far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood and the dangers that everyday life offers.
What I Liked:
- The characterisation, without a shadow of a doubt, was the best part of this book. Both Will and his Mother, particularly for me, felt very relateable as characters. Will was a growing teenage by, clearly growing frustrated with his Mother as he fought for independence from her. But also his Mother's anxiety was a feeling I could relate to. I'm not agoraphobic, but her 'black lagoons' and desperation to rid herself of anxious feeling. Jonah and Angela were great side characters too and I really loved the diverse cast in this book.
- Michael Christie's writing was just wonderful. So quotable and I found that it read really well too. I loved that this book focused on so many themes: fear, mental illness, coming of age, friendship, and even touches upon small-town community prejudice/racism & terminal illness. All great themes to read about and combined they made for a wonderful YA read.
What I Disliked:
- Some of the plot points felt a little too out there for my liking, especially in the second half of the book, which felt very different from the first. The 'Titus' plot twist for one, and even some of the story regarding Butler and other villains in the book. While the second half of the book was an interesting mystery in itself, it felt very segregated from the first half and the ending seemed to diminish some of the characterisation that Christie had worked so hard to achieve.
This was a really good book. It took me a while to get through but I enjoyed it thoroughly, thanks mostly to the wonderful writing and amazing character work. I was a little disappointed that Christie decided to go down a different path in the latter half of the book, I can see that it provided a direction to conclude in, which I think might not have happened in a satisfying way were it not for the extra mysteries revealed.