If I Fall, If I Die
By Michael Christie
Published by Cornerstone (12 February 2015)
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.
If I Fall, If I Die is a remarkable debut full of dazzling prose and unforgettable characters, as well as a poignant and heartfelt depiction of coming of age.
I enjoyed the first half of If I Fall, If I Die, which starts off as the story of a boy exploring the outside world for the first time. Will has been stuck inside his home for all of his life (so far) with his mother Diane, who developed agoraphobia following the death of her parents and twin brother.
Will has now turned 11 and wants to explore. He enrols at school, makes friends and discovers that the 'outside' is not as scary as his mother has led him to believe. At the same time, Diane has to learn to let him go.
My interest lagged in the second half of the book. Will seeks adventure when one of his new friends disappears. I didn't find the mystery element grabbed my attention and the plotline involving Butler and his gang wasn't believable. These stories were then interweaved with what happened to Diane's brother.
Overall, this was a well-written book, but I can only give it three stars. I would have enjoyed it more if the author had stuck to the story of Will and Diane, with her agoraphobia and twin brother, without going off track.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.