The boy stepped Outside, and he did not die. Will has never been Outside, at least not since he can remember. For most of his young life he has lived happily – and safely – Inside his small house with his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who panics at the thought of opening the front door. But Will’s curiosity can’t be contained. Clad in a hockey helmet to protect himself from unknown dangers, he finally ventures Outside – and braces himself for disaster. What he finds instead will change everything.
Will embraces his newfound freedom and soon befriends Jonah, an artistic loner who introduces him to the high-flying thrills of skateboarding. But life Outside quickly grows complicated. When a local boy goes missing, Will is pulled further away from the confines of his closed-off world and thrust headfirst into the throes of early adulthood and the criminal underbelly of city life. All the while his mother must grapple with her greatest fear: will she be brave enough to save her son?
In dazzling, kinetic prose, Michael Christie has written a beautifully tender and emotionally resonant story about family and friendship, overcoming our fears, and learning when to protect the ones we love and when to let them fall.
MICHAEL CHRISTIE's debut book of fiction, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, a finalist for the Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. Prior to earning an MFA from the University of British Columbia, he was a sponsored skateboarder and travelled throughout the world skateboarding and writing for skateboard magazines. Born in Thunder Bay, he now lives on Galiano Island with his wife and two sons. If I Fall, If I Die is his first novel.
LONGLISTED 2015 – Scotiabank Giller Prize
A National Post Best Book — 2015
Globe and Mail 100 — 2015
“This is a bruiser of a tale, one you will feel in your shins and your solar plexus. Michael Christie is a virtuosic prose stylist and boy is he so very wise and so funny on families and friendships, fear and joy, and the physics of sky and pavement. If I Fall, If I Die is a death-defying coming of age story; it’s also as convincing a love story as I have ever read. And so beautifully told that you’ll want to pass it on immediately.”
--Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove
“An astonishing piece of work. Christie combines lyrical prose and true-to-life characters--and skateboarding--to craft a remarkable tale of mothers and sons, and what it means to grow up. If I Fall, If I Die is gripping, heartbreaking, and wholly extraordinary.”
--Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
“Reading If I Fall, If I Die is like hopping on a skateboard and grabbing hold of the bumper of an accelerating car. Christie’s prose pulls you on a ride through the winding streets of phobia, family, and friendship at such a clip you won’t dare let go.”
--David Gilbert, author of & Sons
“Rarely has the tender claustrophobia of the mother-son dynamic, the raw humanity of mental illness, or the delicate, dangerous process of growing up been rendered with such heart and sensitivity. If I Fall, If I Die mines the fundamental dilemmas of both childhood and parenthood to sublime effect. I can’t recall a funnier, truer, or more beautiful debut.”
--Patrick DeWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers
“[A] deftly written first novel. . . . Christie’s fine novel is really a kind of spiritual cousin of Paul Harding’s Tinkers as a study of people who are in this world but not quite of it, whether ghosts from a grain-silo explosion or the people you see at the supermarket. Dark, threatening, dislocating and altogether brilliant.”
--Kirkus Review (starred review)
“‘The Outside’ has never seemed as dangerous and as magical as in the debut novel by Christie about a boy who lives confined in his home with his agoraphobic mother. . . . [The novel’s] raw but clever commentary brims with a fierce poignancy that makes the book very difficult to put down.”
A National Post Best Book — 2015